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Full text of "The Harem : an account of the institution as it existed in the palace of the Turkish sultans, with a history of the Grand Seraglio from its foundation to the present time"

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M.A. F.R.G.S. 


Printed in Great Britain 







Tffls work, as the title-page explains, deals with the harem of the 
Turkish Sultans — but not merely with the harem. It deals also with 
the Grand SeragHo as a whole. Thus only one palace is concerned, 
and only one harem. It is necessary to make this clear, because several 
royal palaces existed in Constantinople, and all of them contained 
harems. True, the majority of them date from only the nineteenth 
century, but the first palace to be built by the Conqueror after his 
entry into the city in 1453 was not the Palace, but quite a different one 
in another part of the town. It might be thought that if the names of 
the palaces were given all difficulties would be overcome, but un- 
fortunately the same name was bestowed on both palaces at different 
times. The only palace, with its harem, which this work sets itself to 
describe is that built by Muhammad II, the Conqueror, on SeragHo 
Point between 1459 and 1465. 

The exact meaning of the various terms employed in its description 
is given in detail in Chapter I. It will be sufficient here to say that the 
Itahans, the first Europeans to have dealings with the Turks, found it 
necessary to coin a word which would include the whole of the 
Royal Palace buildings — the harem, grounds, kiosks, etc. Thus 
seraglio was adopted, and the promontory on which it stood, the site 
of ancient Byzantium, was known as Seraglio Poiut. The abbre- 
viated form serai simply means * palace,' and the modem Turkish 
name for the palace which forms the subject of this work is Topkapi 
Sarayi, or the SeragHo of the Cannon Gate, although both gate 
and cannon have long since disappeared. 

My grateful thanks are due to the following: to the Director of 
the Topkapi Sarayi Museum, Tahsin Oz, who, besides allowing me to 
carry out an extensive and thorough inspection of the SeragHo, gave 
me much valuable information while the work was passing through 
the press, and personaUy corrected the plan of the SeragHo, adding 
matter that it would have been impossible to include otherwise ; to 



my friend Captain H. Burton, of the Norfolk Regiment, for several 
introductions in Istanbul; to Dr K. L. Scott, Principal of Robert 
College at Istanbul, who very kindly put his valuable library at my 
disposal and helped me in several other ways ; to the Director of the 
University Library of Istanbul, for allowing me to reproduce the 
illustrations facing p. i6o and p. 224 ; to the various departments of 
the British Museum, from whom I received every possible help; to 
the staff at the Brighton Pubhc Library (strong in works on costume) ; 
to my friend Miss Frances Welby, for her great help in translating 
some of the more difficult Itahan manuscripts and texts ; to Miss 
Heath (Mrs Ahern), who so patiently drew the plan from my 
manuscript notes and rough drafts ; and to Miss W. Rawlinson, who 
voluntarily undertook the typing of the manuscript. 

N. M. P. 



I. Introductory 

11. Previous Accounts of the Seraglio 

III. The History of Seraglio Hill, its Walls and Kiosks 

IV. The First Court 

V. The Second Court, or Court of the Divan 
VI. The Black Eunuchs 

VII. The Harem— I 
VIII. The Harem— II --- 
IX. The Selamlik 
X. The Baths 
XI. The Third Court 
XII. The Fourth Court 







Muhammad II Frontispiece 

The artist is unknown, but the work has been attributed both to Gentile 
BeUini and to Constanzo da Ferrara. See Basil Grey, Burlington Magazine, 
Ixi (1932), p. 4 et seq. 

From a drawing in the collection of the SeragUo Library. Reproduced 
by courtesy of the Director of the Topkapi Sarayi Mtizesi. 

The Roofs of the Seraguo, showing the Selamlik and 

Adjoining Buildings 20 

From a photograph by the author. 

The Roofs of the Seraglio, showing the Harem Buildings 24 

From a photograph by the author. 

The Seraglio from the Marmora, showing Part of the 
Old Sea-walls, the De^irmen Kapi, and the Small 
Mosque 40 

The railway passes immediately beyond the walls on the land side. Of 
the Seraglio itself, the row of chimneys in the Second Court will be noticed 
on the left ; the centre is occupied by the Hall of Campaign, the Baths of 
SeUm II, and the Treasury (Nos. 103, 104, and 105 in the plan) ; on the 
right is the Kiosk of Abd ul-Mejid (No. 120). Photo E.N. A. 

Seraglio Hill from Galata 54 

From Grelot's Relation nouvelled'un voyage de Constantinople (Paris, 1680). 

Plan of Seraglio Point, from Melling's " Voyage pittoresque 

DE Constantinople " 64 

From the plan of Fr. Kauffer, based on the surveys of 1776 and 1786, 
with additional matter by J.-D. Barbie du Bocage (18 19). 

The First Court of the Seraglio 86 

From an engraving by A.-I. Melling, Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople 
(Paris, 1 819). 

The First Court of the Seraglio, showing the Church of 

St Irene and the Ortakapi 90 

To the right is the row of chimneys, with the water works building 
(No. 5 in the plan) on the near side of the wall. To the left is the tall Divan 
Tower (No. 22), much higher than the near-by domes and chimneys of 
the harem and selamlik. Photo E.N.A. 



The Procession on the Feast of Bairam 94 

From an engraving by A. -I. Melling, Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople 
(Paris, 1819). 

The Ortakapi, or Entrance to the Second Court of the 

Seraglio 98 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Hall of the Divan, or Kubbealti, showing the Sultan's 

Grilled Window 102 

Photo E.N.A. 

View from the Head Nurse's Balcony 102 

The building below is the harem hospital. From a photograph by 
the author. 

The Second Court of the Seraguo 106 

From an engraving by A.-I. Melling, Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople 
(Paris, 1 8 19). 

Entrances to the Quarters of the Halberdiers and to those 

OF THE Black Eunuchs 112 

The door on the right is known as the Carriage Gate [Araba Kapisi) 
(No. 30 in the plan). From a photograph by the author. 

Mess-room of the Halberdiers, showing the Two Styles of 
Lockers and the Brazier in the Centre of the 
Room 112 

From a photograph by the author. 

The Courtyard of the Black Eunuchs 126 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Kislar Agha, or Chief Black Eunuch 130 

From The Costume of Turkey, by W. MUler (London, 1802). The text 
is by Octavien Dalvimart. 

The Royal Harem 152 

From an engraving by A.-I. Melling, Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople 
(Paris, 1 8 19). 

The Courtyard of the Harem Slaves 156 

From a photograph by the author. 




An Accouchement in the Harem i6o 

From a manuscript of the Zanan-nameh, by Fazil (Yildiz 2824-73), in 
the University Library of Istanbul. By permission of the Director of the 


The Sultan Valid^ 166 

From the German translation (Nuremberg, 1572) o£Les quatre premiers 
Livres des navigations et peregrinations orientates de Nicolas de Nicolay (Lyon, 

A Kadin in Indoor Costume 170 

From The Costume of Turkey, by W. Miller (London, 1802). 

The Royal Saloon 178 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Vestibule of the Fountain 182 

Photo E.N.A. 
The Kiosk and Courtyard of Osman III 186 

The Chamber of Murad III 190 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Wall Kiosk of Osman III : a View looking up from the 

Seraglio Gardens 194 

The Dining-room of Ahmed III 196 

This view of the dining-room (No. 89 in the plan) shows the floral 
wood-panelling and the side entrance to the Royal Saloon (No. 77). 
Photo E.N.A. 

The Kjosk of Osman III : one of the Smaller Rooms 196 

The Kafes, or Cage : the North-western Portion of the 

Building 198 

From a photograph by the author. 

The Corridor " where the Jinn hold their Consultations," 


From a photograph by the author. 

The Courtyard of the Cage, showing the Buildings on the 

South-eastern Side 200 

From a photograph by the author. 




The Baths of Eski Kaplija, at Chekirge, near Brusa 206 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Female Public Baths 212 

From d'Ohsson's Tableau giniral de V Empire Othoman (Paris, 1787). 

The Women's Bath 224 

From a manuscript of the Zanan-nameh, by FazU (Yildiz 2824-73), in the 
University Library of Istanbul. By permission of the Director of the 

The Baths of Yeni Kaplija, on the Mudania Road, near 

Brusa 230 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Arzodasi, or Throne Room 234 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Hall of Campaign 234 

This now houses part of the porcelain collection, ^ini Hazinesi. (The 
Hall is No. 103 in the plan.) Photo E.N.A. 

The Revan Kiosk, adjoining the Pavilion of the Holy 

Mantle 252 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Baghdad Kiosk, from the Terrace of Sultan Ibrahim 254 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Baghdad Kiosk : a View of the Interior 256 

Photo E.N.A. 

The Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha, in the Fourth Court 258 

Photo E.N.A. 

Plan of the Seraglio, with Key 260 

From drawings, notes, and photographs made by the author, and 
based on the plan in the Topkapi Sarayi Miizesi Rehberi. 




It would probably be impossible to think of any Eastern institution 
that is more famiHar by name to the whole of the Western world 
but less understood in actual fact than the harem. From early child- 
hood we have heard of the Turkish harem, and have been told that 
it is a place where hundreds of lovely women are kept locked up for 
the sole pleasure of a single master. And as we grow up but 
little is added to this early information. We perhaps reahze the 
difference between wives and concubines, and appreciate their 
position in Muhammadan law. We may even discover that very 
few Turks ever had more than one wife, and that few could 
afford to keep more than a negro cook as maid-of-all-work. But 
most of us still imagine that the Sultan is — or, rather, was — a vicious 
old reprobate, spending all his time in the harem^ surrounded by 
hundreds of semi-naked women, in an atmosphere of heavy per- 
fume, cool fountains, soft music, and over-indulgence in every 
conceivable kind of vice that the united brains of jealous, sex- 
starved women could invent for the pleasure of their lord. 

There are perhaps two main reasons why such false ideas have 
lingered so long in the Western mind. In the first place, so great has 
been the secrecy which has always surrounded the Imperial harem 
that first-hand and rehable information was seldom forthcoming. 
In the second place, the dividing line between fact and fiction, as far 
as the harem was concerned, was very thin and ill defmed. After all, it 
had only been popularized in Western Europe early in the eighteenth 
century, when Antoine Galland first pubHshed the Arabian Nights, and 
the pubhc were much too intrigued by the novelty and fascination 
of the tales themselves to entertain any desire to question the mise en 
scene or seek to dissipate the clouds of romance and hyperbole that 
hung so heavily over this newly discovered creation of the Orient. 

The vague, and sometimes conflicting, descriptions of travellers 
that followed, the meagre accounts of Enghsh governesses and 



companions, the letters and diaries of ambassadors' wives or secre- 
taries, were the sole sources of information. But even so the number 
of the inteUigent reading public was small, while many of the more 
important first-hand accounts still remained in manuscript, and had 
long since found their resting-place amid a host of dusty archives or 
on the shelves of some State hbrary uncatalogued and forgotten. 
Thus all kinds of misunderstandings, exaggerations, distortions, and 
occasionally deHberate fabrications, have merely tended to add con- 
fusion to the indifferent and scanty accounts of the harem already 

It is not only in the more intimate details of Court etiquette that 
misconceptions have occurred, but even in generalities, the apprecia- 
tion of which is absolutely necessary to the understanding of the 
whole harem system. For instance, it is still quite widely beheved that 
harem rule was coeval with the great days of the Ottoman Empire — 
with the first Murad, Bayezid, Muhammad, Selim, and Suleiman the 
Magnificent — whereas in reahty the harem must not be connected 
with the Ottoman power at its height, but should be looked upon as ■ 
the beginning of its decline and fall. To the early rulers of Turkey 
the harem was unknown ; it was unwanted. They were much too 
busy overcoming their numerous foes and establishing an empire to 
find time to indulge the appetite for a sensual life that only follows 
in the wake of security, well-filled treasuries, and abundance of 
leisure. Yet it must not be imagined that the harem system was solely - 
responsible for the ultimate fall of the Ottoman Empire. It was not 
the system that was wrong, it was thqse^ in charge of it. So far from 
being a palace of women lazing about marble halls awaiting their 
master's pleasure, the harem was a little world of its own, governed 
with the utmost deliberation and care, not by a man at all, but by a 
woman. Every member of it had her exact duties to perform, and 
was forced to comply with all the rules and regulations that in many 
respects were as strict and rigid as in a convent. 

No one knew the etiquette of the harem more than the Sultan, and 
once it was respected all would be well. Even if that great lady the 
Sultan's mother and the Grand Vizir were placated he still had the 
janissaries to reckon with. A Sultan could go so far, but no farther : 
deposition was certain and death probable. 




And yet it is hard to lay all the blame on a man who may have 
spent his whole Hfe locked up in a room in the Palace, suddenly to 
find himself set firee and hailed as Sultan. No wonder excesses often 
followed, with dire results to all concerned. A chain is only as strong 
as its weakest link. A nation born and bred in slavery and dependent 
on slavery for its very existence is safe only so long as the machine 
runs smoothly, but as soon as a single cog ceases to function the 
whole mechanism may be affected. At the same time the machine 
may be well worth a close inspection, and here and there we may 
come across a part that will hold our interest, and perhaps even 
teach us something as well. 

For instance, the enormous activities of the Palace seem to have 
almost entirely escaped general notice, and while idle curiosity has 
always centred on the harem, the fact that the Palace contained a 
great military School of State, over a dozen mosques, ten double 
kitchens, two bakeries, a flour-mill, two hospitals, and various kinds 
of baths, storerooms, sports fields, etc., is almost wholly ignored. 

It is impossible to understand the harem unless we consider it 
merely as a single unit in a large and highly compHcated system. 

As the work proceeds the harem will appear in its right perspective ; 
it will no longer be a vague term used as synonymous with SeragUo, 
but will be clearly defmed as regards its scope, and described as fully 
as possible with the aid of a detailed plan and occasional photographs. 
And here it is necessary to be quite clear as to the real meaning of 
words such as harem and seraglio. Let us take harem first. The word 
is borrowed from the Arabic hardm, and means * that which is unlaw- 
ful,' as opposed to haldl, * that which is lawful.' Thus the whole 
region for a certain distance round Mecca and Medina is hardm — 
that is to say that certain things allowed elsewhere are not permitted 
there. Consequently, owing to the sacredness of those holy places, 
the word also signified * holy,' ' protected,' ' sacred,' ' inviolate,' and 
lastly * forbidden.' In its secular apphcation the word was used in 
reference to that portion of a Mushm house occupied by the women, 
because it was their hardm, or sanctuary. The Turks softened the 
word into harem, and added to it the termination lik. Thus the 
correct Turkish word for the woman's part of the house is haremlik. 
The suffix when added to substantives denotes place, and the * place 



of sanctuary ' exactly expresses that portion of the house allotted to 
the wife, her children and servants. 

The abbreviated form harem is more correctly apphed to the 
personnel of the haremlik, although the shorter form is now almost 
universally adopted with all its various meanings. But in the case 
of the word selamlik, which signifies the domain of the husband, no 
change has occurred. This could not well be otherwise, as seldm 
simply means ' greeting ' or ' salutation,' and the one place in the 
house where guests could be received was naturally the selamlik. 

Relations with European Powers soon gave rise to the coining of 
a word that would embrace not only the haremlik and the selamlik, 
but the entire Royal buildings as a whole. By a curious Itahan 
adaptation of a Persian word the term seraglio was introduced, and 
came to be generally accepted by both Europeans and Turks. Its 
etymological history is interesting, and helps to explain its exact 
meaning. The modem seraglio is directly derived from the Itahan 
serraglio, ' a cage for wild animals ' (Latin sera, ' a bar,' with aculum 
added as suffix), and was adopted owing to its chance similarity with 
the Persian words sara and sarat, which originally simply meant ' a 
building,' and particularly * a palace,' and which are familiar to us in 
the word * caravanserai ' (Persian karwdnsarai), 'a (halting) place for 
camels,' and so ' an inn for travellers.' In its proper sense of ' a build- 
ing' or 'a palace' sardt wsiS largely used by the Tatars, from whom it 
was borrowed by the Russians, who degraded it to mean merely ' a 
shed.' But in the language of the Levantine Franks it became serail 
and serraglio. It was at this point that a mistaken * striving after 
meaning ' with the Italian serrato, ' shut up,' etc., connected it with the 
private apartments of women. But as the old idea of * palace ' was 
still recognized in both serail and seraglio (spelled now with one *r') 
they were universally adopted to mean the entire Royal Palace on 
the hill of the ancient Byzantine acropohs. In fact, the peninsula 
itself became known as Seraglio Point, and is still so called 

The adoption in recent years of the Western alphabet and phonetic 
spelling has caused many curious-looking words to appear, and it is 
with difficulty that some of them can be recognized at all. The 
tourist of to-day on getting into a taxi in Pera and wishing to go to 



the Seraglio should ask for the Topkapi Sarayi, and he will at once 
be understood. As mentioned in the Preface, the meaning of the 
phrase is ' the Palace of the Cannon Gate,' and refers to an old gate 
that once stood at the very tip of Seraglio Point, and which was 
protected by several pieces of cannon now in the arms museum in 
the ancient church of St Irene. The 1933 Turkish guide-book to 
the Seraglio calls itself Topkapi Sarayi Miizesi Rehberi {Guide to the 
Museum of the Cannon Gate Palace).^ But in spite of this the terms 
seraglio and the abbreviated serail or serai are in general use, especially 
among foreigners. 

Yet the visitor may be perplexed when the hotel guide asks him if 
he has yet visited the Old Serai, or Vieux ^er^i', especially if he already 
knows that the Old Serai, or Eski Serai, was pulled dov^oi long ago 
and the site first occupied by the Seraskerat, or War Office, erected 
in 1870, and then, since 1924, by the University. 

But the reference is really to the Seraglio. The explanation is as 
follows : after Muhammad II had taken Constantinople he built a 
palace on the Third Hill in 1454, and when between 1459 and 1465 
the larger palace on the First Hill superseded it the former was known 
as Eski Serai, or Old Serai, while the latter was called Yeni Serai, or 
New Serai. Among European writers, however, it was usually 
referred to as the Grand Seragho. 

Now when the Yeni Serai was abandoned in 1853 it imme- 
diately was called the Old Palace by Europeans. The Turks, however, 
preferred to call it the Top Capu (now spelled Topkapi) Sarayi. 

Even so that is not all, because in 1709 Ahmed III had started 
building a summer palace near the Marmora on Seragho Point. 
This palace was also known to the Turks as Top Capu Sarayi, but 
to us merely as the Summer Palace. It was totally destroyed in 
1862-63. It will thus be seen that there is plenty of justification for 
the visitor to be confused by the redundance of names. I fmd it 
clearest to refer to the 1454 palace as the Old Serai or Old Seragho, 
that which forms the subject of the present work as the Grand 
Seragho, or simply the Seragho, and the 1709 one as the Summer 
Palace. In this way, I think, everything will be clear. 

Having now looked at the true meanings of harem, seldmlik, and 

' Istanbul. 
B 17 


seraglio, we can appreciate the fact that, whereas the former two must 
be used only to refer to the apartments of the women and the men 
respectively, the term seraglio can be very conveniently employed 
for the entire Palace and all its buildings. 

As is well known, among all Eastern nations the gate was most 
important both architecturally and pohtically, whether it was the 
gate of the city wall, the gate of the palace, or the gate of a private 
dwelling. We have just noticed that the SeragHo itself is known by 
the name of a gate ; the seat of Ottoman Government was named 
after a gate — the Bab-i-Humayun, or Subhme Porte. So also the 
divisions of any large building were regulated by its gates. I shall 
have a good deal to say about gates later ; here I am merely anxious 
to stress the importance of gates not only in the understanding of the 
plan of the Seragho, but in giving their name to the court into which 
they lead, and in some cases to the buildings surrounding or in the 
vicinity of that court. 

Thus in the case of the Seragho, although the haremlik and the 
selamlik were the two main divisions of the buildings which formed 
the private apartments of the Royal household, there were other 
buildings beyond the famous Gate of Fehcity, or Bah-i-Sa adet as it 
was called. Hence all that unknown part of the SeragHo beyond 
that gate was known as the House of Fehcity. 

As we shall see in a later chapter, the semi-public First Court was 
bounded on its inner side by a thick wall pierced by a gate known as 
the Ortakapi, past which admittance was Hmited to those seeking 
audience at the Divan. Only the Sultan was allowed to proceed past 
this gate on horseback. From the Second Court access was gained 
to the House of Fehcity only through the Gate of Fehcity, and only 
members of the Sultan's own household were allowed entrance. 

With these few details we are in a much better position to under- 
stand the early descriptions of the SeragHo that have come down to 
us, and from what direction attempts to view the Palace were made, 
and how far the would-be sightseers got. 

During the whole period over which the SeragHo continued to 
be the Royal residence the number of people who claim with good 
justification to have seen any part of it past the Gate of Fehcity can 
be counted on the fmgers of one hand. Even if we include men 



who at one time were actually employed in the Inside Service of 
the SeragUo itself, the total still remains under a dozen. 

In considering these early accounts we must differentiate between 
these two groups. But even when we have read what ex-pages of 
the Seragho have to tell us we reaUze more than before how segre- 
gated the various units of the Palace system were, and how any 
information about the harem was still trivial and unrehable, if, indeed, 
any was forthcoming at all. Thus the first three accounts, those by 
Angiolello (1470-81), Bassano da Zara {c. 1530-40), and Menavino 
(c. 1545), deal almost entirely with the Palace School. Bassano da 
Zara, however, discourses on the general manners and customs of the 
Turks as well, and I shall have occasion to refer to his work again. 

The first defmite account we have of the harem is contained in a 
description of Constantinople by one Domenico Hierosolimitano, 
entitled Relatione della gran citta di Costantinopoli ' {sic), a manuscript 
which we shall consider in due course. The author occupied the 
unique post of physician at the Court of Murad III (1574-95), and 
this alone could account for knowledge of the quarters of the harem 
shown in his writings. But so secret and jealously guarded was the 
harem and all that happened inside it that nothing of any consequence 
whatever was definitely known (let alone seen) until after the de- 
position of Abd ul-Hamid II in 1909. And even since that date 
the number of people who have visited any of the closed rooms is a 
mere handful. As these early accounts have a distinct historical 
value I shall devote the next chapter to a more detailed discussion of 
them. True, after 1853, when Abd ul-Mejid had changed his resi- 
dence to the more airy shores of the Bosphorus, certain ' showrooms ' 
were open to privileged foreigners, but the harem still remained the 
place of mystery it ever was. 

In 161 5 the well-known traveller Pietro della Valle had told his 
readers that nothing could be learned about what existed beyond the 
Gate of FeHcity. And as recently as 1926 we find such an authority 
as Sir George Young telling us the same thing, only in an even more 
emphatic way. " Up till now," he says, 

the Seraglio Hareem and the Hirkai Sherif Odassi [Chamber of the 
Holy Mantle] remain two of the very few places on earth that no 

' 1611. 



Anglo-Saxon or American foot has as yet trod. As the Pole used to 
be for explorers — as Everest still is for mountaineers — so have the 
Sultan's Hareem and the Hirkai Sherif been for tourists.^ 

The secret of the harem w^as well kept, and even in recent years 
when Yildiz housed 370 women and 127 eunuchs in the service of 
Abd ul-Hamid II nothing was really known until after the fall of 
the Sultan. 

It was here that the end of the harem came, for, although the deposed 
Sultan was allowed to take a few favourites into exile at Salonica, 
the harem system defmitely ended in 1909. There are many accounts 
of its dispersal and the first and last pubHc appearance of the women. 
Perhaps the best version is that given by Francis McCullagh : 

One of the most mournful processions of the many mournful pro- 
cessions of fallen grandeur that passed through the streets during these 
days was one composed of the ladies from the ex-Sultan's Harem on 
their way from Yildiz to the Top-Kapu Palace [the SeragHo]. These 
unfortunate ladies were of all ages between fifteen and fifty and so 
numerous that it took thirty-one carriages to convey them and their 
attendants. Some of them were sent to the Old Seragho in Stamboul, 
but this old palace of the early Sultans had fallen into such a state of 
disrepair that it was found to be unsuitable for them and they were 
sent back again to Yildiz. Finally they were all collected in the Top- 
Kapu Palace in connection with one of the strangest ceremonies that 
ever took place even there. It is well known that most of the ladies in 
the harems of the Turkish Sultans were Circassians, the Circassian girls 
being very much esteemed on account of their beauty and being conse- 
quendy very expensive. As Abd-ul-Hamid's Seragho was no excep- 
tion to this general rule, the Turkish Government telegraphed to the 
different Circassian villages in Anatoha, notifj'^ing them that every 
family which happened to have any of its female members in the ex- 
Sultan's Harem was at hberty to take them home, no matter whether 
the girls had been originally sold by their parents or had (as was the 
case in some instances) been torn from their homes by force. 

In consequence of this, a large number of Circassian mountaineers 
came in their picturesque garb into Constantinople, and on a certain 
fixed day they were conducted in a body to the Old Palace of Top- 
Kapu, where, in the presence of a Turkish Commission, they were 
ushered into a long hall filled with the ex-Sultan's concubines, cadines 
and odaHsques, all of whom were then allowed to unveil themselves for 

' Constantinople (London), pp. 160-161. 


the occasion. The scene that followed was very touching. Daughters 
fell into the arms of their fathers whom they had not seen for years. 
Sisters embraced brothers or cousins, and in some instances relatives 
met who had never met before, and were only able to estabhsh their 
relationship by means of long and mutual explanations. 

The contrast between the dehcate complexions and costly attire of 
the women and the rough, weather-beaten appearance of the ill-clad 
mountaineers who had come to fetch them home was not the least 
striking feature of the extraordinary scene ; and in some instances the 
poor relatives were quite dazzled by the beautiful faces, the graceful 
manners, and the rich apparel of their kinswomen. The latter seemed 
all very glad, however, to get away; and as a rule they lost no time 
in packing their trunks and departing, sometimes after a very affec- 
tionate leave-taking of the other odahsques. The number of female 
slaves thus hberated was two hundred and thirteen. 

Clad in Circassian peasant dress, they are nov/ in all probabihty milk- 
ing cows and doing farm work in Anatoha. . . . This joyful reunion 
in the Top-Kapu Palace had its sad side, however, as more than one 
of the men did not find the face he sought. Some of the girls had died, 
some had been put to death by Abd-ul-Hamid, and others of them, 
after Abd-ul-Hamid's fall, had been brought with him to Salonica by 
the ex-Sultan or quietly drafted into the harems of imperial princes 
who had taken a fancy to them. Moreover a good many of the women, 
especially those who had already passed their first youth, were dis- 
heartened to learn that nobody came to fetch them. Apparendy their 
relatives had died or migrated, or did not rehsh the prospect of bring- 
ing back into their miserable mountain huts women no longer young, 
who had contracted expensive tastes and forgotten the language of their 
childhood. . . . These unfortunate ladies will probably pine away the 
rest of their hves in company with the other ladies — remnants of the 
Harems of the past Sultans — who fill the Top-Kapu Palace and who, 
in the best manner of the Arabian Nights, sigh audibly at the barred and 
latticed windows and have on one or two occasions dropped roses and 
perfumed handkerchiefs before good-looking youths passing in the 
street below. ^ 

Sic transit . , . And so passed the harem. 

As soon as the few remaining women had been allotted other 
residences in the town the treasures in the Seraglio were arranged as 
a museum, and after long preparation it was open for inspection to 
a selected few. Then gradually other rooms were throwm. open, and 

* The Fall of Abd-ul-Hamid (London, 1910), pp. 276-278. 


the public were finally allowed to inspect them on payment of a 
small entrance fee. 

Thus in the autumn of 1924 the chief local guide-book afforded 
the following information : 

At the moment one may visit : 

The Bagdad Kieuschk. 

The Moustapha Pacha Kieuschk. 

The Terrace of the Abdul Medjid Pavihon. 

The Museum of Porcelaines. 

The Reception Room or Arz Odassi. 

During the next ten years more and more rooms were opened, 
until in 1933 it was possible to pubhsh an official guide-book and lay 
down exactly what rooms were open and what closed. This was 
most necessary, as previously no fixed rule appeared to exist by which 
a tourist was able to discover what portions of the SeragHo he could 
see and what portions he could not see. He was merely passed on 
from one official to another by means of beckoning and pointing. 
And although this method of direction still obtains to a certain 
degree, signboards and notices are put up everywhere. 

The guide-book, unfortunately, was only pubHshed in modem 
Turkish, but the Director informed me that by the end of 1936 he 
hoped to have an edition in French or EngHsh. At the end of the 
guide is an excellent map showing clearly the exact itinerary to be 
followed, while a list of the rooms and courtyards is attached. This 
list is arranged in two columns. That to the left includes all places 
open to the public {Gezilen Verier) — forty-two in all — while in the 
right-hand column are those which are closed [Gezilmiyen Verier) — 
only thirty-eight in number. Thus at first sight it would appear that 
the visitor is free to inspect more than half the SeragHo. A closer 
inspection of the list, however, will reveal the fact that this is not the 
case, for in the Gezilen list several rooms of a single suite are num- 
bered separately, while m the Gezilmiyen Hst they are not. Then, 
again, there are many places on the map left entirely blank, with- 
out any numbers at all. These would swell the ' taboo ' list quite 

At the same time the intelligent visitor can get a good idea of the 



main features of the Palace, and, quite apart from the glories of the 
Treasury, can obtain first-hand information on the interior decora- 
tion of the Turkish, Syrian, Arabic, and Persian schools. But unless 
he has studied the history of the Seragho he will go away little wiser 
than he came, seeing only a jumble of rather tawdry little rooms, not 
to be compared in size or splendour with others he has seen in palaces 
in nearly every other part of Europe or the Near East. It is he who 
will be the loser, for no more interesting or grimly romantic spot 
exists in the world to-day. It. is in the attempt to supply such neces- 
sary information, in however small and inadequate a way, that the 
present work has been written. 

Every author writing on Constantinople has endeavoured, some 
more successfully than others, to give a general impression of the 
Seraglio as a whole. But excellent as the descriptions may be they 
can never convey to the reader as much as really good modern photo- 
graphs. There has always been the greatest difficulty in obtaining 
photographs, and in the 1933 guide-book it is very defmitely stated 
more than once that no cameras are allowed past the entrance gate, 
and no photographs whatever may be taken. 

Certain parts of the Palace and most of the exhibits in the Museum 
have been reproduced for pubHc sale by the official photographer, 
but even he is allowed very Httle scope, and his activities are restricted 
by the immutable decisions of the Museum authorities. It is impos- 
sible to obtain a view of the whole Palace unless you mount the 
Divan Tower and climb out through the topmost windows to a 
perilous perch on the parapet. But the results more than compensate 
for the trouble involved, and the view of the harem roofs is really 
most extraordinary, as I trust my readers will agree from an inspec- 
tion of the photographs themselves (see the plates facing pp. 20 
and 24). 

I am fully aware that I am not the first person to pubUsh a picture 
of the roofs, but all previous photographs have been taken in one 
direction only, and so no idea of the harem in its relation to the 
seldmlik has been obtained. It is one thing to photograph the roofs, 
and quite another thing to identify what rooms the forest of chimneys 
and domes surmounts. A thorough knowledge of the Palace is 
necessary for this, so I make no excuse for describing the pictures in 



detail. For the sake of future reference or comparison, I may 
mention that I took these photographs on September 28, 1934. The 
photograph reproduced opposite p. 20 gives us a view of the Palace 
buildings that stretch out along the apex of SeragHo Hill towards the 
Bosphorus. They include practically the whole of the selamlik and 
the quarters to the left of the Hall of the Divan. Low down in the 
middle foreground is the roof of the canopy in the courtyard of the 
black eunuchs. To the left are the windows and roof of the Princes' 
School (No. 36 in the plan at the end of the book), and in the 
extreme bottom left-hand comer we can see the beginning of the 
roof of the black eunuchs' dormitories (No. 35 in the plan). 

In the centre foreground are the apartments of the harem Treasurer 
and Chamberlain (Nos. 38 and 39), while to the right are the cupolas 
of the Inner Treasury, now the Arms Museum (No. 26). In the very 
middle and a little to the left are (respectively) the low and high 
cupolas of the Chief Black Eunuch's suite (No. 37). Beyond the 
wall to the right is the mosque of the Palace School, now the 
Library (No. 98); while stretching away in the distance to a point 
where Marmora and Bosphorus meet we can just identify, among 
other buildings, the Hall of the Royal Bedchamber (No. iii), the 
PaviHon of the Holy Mantle (No. no), the Hall of Circumcision 
(No. 94), the suite of the Princes, known as the Cage (No. 90), and, 
fmally, the Revan and Baghdad Kiosks (Nos. 113 and 114). 

Reference to the plan at the end of the book will greatly facihtate 
the identification of the various buildings. 

The photograph reproduced opposite was taken more to the west, 
looking towards the Golden Horn, and shows us the whole of the 
harem and that part of the selamlik not included in the first picture. In 
the bottom right-hand comer is a portion of the parapet from which 
the photograph was taken. To its immediate left, and occupying 
all the foreground, are the roofs of the black eunuchs' dormitories. 
To the left is a tall octagonal tower, below to the right and left 
of which can be seen the roofs of the arcade surrounding the 
courtyard of the harem girls (No. 44). Farther to the left, continu- 
ing towards the trees, are the covered passages to the girls' hospital 
and gardens (No. 56), and the suite of the Head Nurse of the harem 
(No. 54). 




Continuing along the outer wall, we notice the suites of the Sultan 
VaHde, mother of the reigning Sultan (Nos. 65-68), and SeUm III 
(No. 83), with a pointed cupola. Farther still can be seen the wall 
kiosk of Osman III (No. 85). The three square chimney-stacks sur- 
mount fireplaces in the rooms of the Sultan VaHde nearest the court- 
yard, while the dome to the left covers her dining-room (No. 67). 

The turret to the right with the black top belongs to the Princes* 
School, and, fmally, the large dome and the one behind it are 
respectively the Throne Room of the harem (No. 77) and the bed- 
room of Murad III (No. 87). 

And here I may be allowed to say, without any boastful intent, 
that at this moment of writing I know of no person whatever who 
has seen more of the Seraglio than I have myself. The point is of 
more interest than it may appear. The student of Oriental history 
or sociology may go to Istanbul armed with letters to the Director 
of Pubhc Works, the Curator of the Museum, and so on, and after 
much palaver and patience be specially conducted over those parts 
of the Seraglio not shown to the general public. After hours of 
inspecting rooms, passages, courtyards, kitchens, etc., he will be 
politely told that he has seen everything. And who is he to say them 
nay? By this time his mind has become so bewildered by the 
labyrinthine nature of the place that as far as he can judge he has seen 
everything. It is not that the authorities have anything to hide or 
any wish to deceive, but there are many parts of the Seragho that, 
for one reason or another, are not in a fit state to be shown to visitors. 
And when the authorities say they have shown you everything they 
mean everything that is in a fit state to be shown, or that, as far as 
they can judge, could be of any possible interest to you. 

Each time I went to the Seraglio I discovered some part I had not 
seen before. Sometimes it was a connecting corridor that had been 
passed previously as of no interest ; on other occasions it was a small 
room to which the key had not been found on former visits. Once 
I came upon a flight of steps of the existence of which I had had no 
idea. Then, again, my persistence led me one day to a part of the 
girls' hospital that my guide himself had never seen before, and in 
front of one doorway the cobwebs were over three feet high, and 
so thick that we had to get two long sticks to remove them before 



it was possible to enter. I merely mention all this to show how 
intricate and misleading the place is, and how difficult it is to attempt 
to make a plan of such a conglomeration of buildings of all shapes 
and sizes, erected in different styles at different times, and, worst of 
all, on different levels. 

Even now I am convinced that there are still parts of the Seragho 
that I have not seen : some because the condition of the floor is so 
bad that it is impossible to proceed with any degree of safety ; some 
because they are so full of rubbish, packing-cases, disused candelabra, 
etc., that entrance is out of the question ; and still others which are 
in constant use by the resident staff, or which for one reason or another 
I never properly saw. I feel, however, that (with the one exception 
of the Chamber of the Holy Relics) those portions of the SeragHo 
that I have not inspected are of httle consequence, and a full know- 
ledge of them would hardly affect the plan I have been at such pains 
to draw as correctly as possible. 




As already mentioned, the earliest accounts of the Seraglio deal 
almost exclusively with the Palace School, while other sixteenth- 
century writers, such as Cantacusino, Giovio, Junis Bey, Ramberti, 
Postel, Chesneau, Busbecq, Garzoni, Sanderson, and Morosini,^ limit 
themselves to a description of the Ottoman manners and customs, 
rehgion and government, and refer but briefly to the SeragHo, saying 
how impossible it is to discover anything about it. There may, 
however, be a few exceptions to this general rule, but the only 
sixteenth-century writer who may possibly have seen quite a con- 
siderable amount of the Seraglio is the French traveller Nicolas de 
Nicolay (1517-83). 

Nicolas de Nicolay (15 51) 

Nicolay accompanied Gabriel d'Aramon in his embassy to Con- 
stantinople in 1551. He went for the express purpose of making 
drawings of costumes, and to him we owe the first important collec- 
tion on the subject, pubHshed in his Quatre premiers Livres des naviga- 
tions et peregrinations orientates.^ He must have had certain advantages 
by his attachment to the embassy, and, as he tells us himself, made 
friends with a eunuch who helped him in his work. Although much 
of his information on the government of the Empire was derived 
from Menavino he was a keen and careful observer, as his particular 
hobby necessitated, and he may well have seen that part of the 
seldmlik which he so quaintly describes. I shall have occasion to 
return to him when discussing costumes in a later chapter. 

In chapter xviii he writes as follows : 

. . . this Sarail is inclosed with strong & high walles, being in circuit 
about two miles, in the midst wherof upon a Uttle hil is to be seen a 

' For all of these writers see A. H. Lybyer, Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time 
of Suleiman the Magnificent (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1913), pp. 307-322. 
2 Lyon, 1567. Some copies of the first edition are dated 1568. 



faire & delectable garden, which beginning on the middest of the 
mount discendeth towards the Sea: there are diuers httle houses & 
dwelling places, with a gallery, standing vpon columnes after the forme 
of a monasterie, round about the whiche are about 200. chambers, & 
therabout the great Turk dwelleth for the most part of the sommer, 
for that it is a place, both high, of a fresh aire, & abounding of good 
waters : in times past these inhabitations haue bin of the dependences 
of S. Sophie, but Baiazet the 2. caused them to be deuided : and in the 
midst therof caused a principal house, to be builded, within the which 
in the lower chambers to eschew the Northeast wind ... he dwelleth 
all the winter. A Htle more below, was another smal habitation, al 
made of very cleare glasse, ioyned & tyed together with roddes of Tin 
in forme of a rounde Hemisphere, vnder which by wonderful artifice 
passed a faire & cleare fountain, which sweetly discending by the same 
Hemisphere, spreadeth ouer the whole garden. In this place Baiazet in 
sommer often went to refresh himself: & pas his sleep ouer with the 
sweet noice of the waters : but now the most part thereof being ruined, 
the water hath taken his course towards other places. Within this com- 
passe is as yet [read ' further ' ( ?) ; the French merely has encores] the 
Sarail of Sultana, wife to the great Turke, garnished with bathes most 
magnificque [sic], 8c nere vnto the same a place for yong children, 
which are pages, being notwithstanding estemed as slaues, are there 
nourished, instructed, & exercised aswell in their rehgion, as to ryde 
horses, to shoote, & doe all other warlyke exercises, euen from their age 
of eight, niene, or ten yeeres, vnto twentie, the ordinarie number of 
these children being commonly about fiue or sixe hundred." 

Although this corresponds closely w^ith the earlier (1548) account 
of Menavino there is a certain amount of additional information 
included, which Nicolay derived doubtless from talks with his 
friend the eunuch, or possibly from personal inspection of parts of 
the seldmlik. 

The portion of the Seraglio described corresponds to the area to 
be occupied in later years by the Revan and Baghdad Kiosks, the 
Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, and the Privy Stables — i.e., Nos. 113, 
114, no, and 20. The " Sarail of Sultana " and the Palace School 
may be taken as corresponding roughly to the harem as shown in 
our plan, and adjacent portions of the Third Court and black eunuchs' 

In the seventeenth century several travellers, such as Peter Mundy, 

» P. 51 and verso of die English translation of 1585 (pp. 65-66 of the 1567 edition). 



got into the Second Court, but no farther; while others, such as 
Sandys, Grimstone, Gainsford, della Valle, Tavernier, Thevenot, 
Grelot, and Chardin, fared no better. Some of the Venetian Bailos' 
reports may contain valuable material, but I confess not to have 
studied in any detail the eighty odd volumes already pubhshed. I 
have but little doubt, however, that the best of them all is that of 
Ottaviano Bon, to whom we shall soon return. I can therefore add 
no new names of claimants to those already given by Dr Bamette 


We now turn to an Itahan physician, who was employed in the 
Palace during the reign of Murad III (1574-95). According to his 
own account he was one of seven physicians who attended on the 
Sultan, and ranked third in order of seniority. From him we get 
the first known account of some of the rooms of the harem, par- 
ticularly of the Golden Road (No. 75 in the plan). Owing to his 
unique advantages he was in a position to visit parts of the harem 
to which access was only allowed to certain of the black eunuchs 
and the doctors. It was a long time before any further description 
was forthcoming, and claimants had to content themselves with the 
inspection of parts of the seldmlik and gardens. 

Apart from the little that Hierosohmitano tells us of himself 
nothing seems to be known about him. His account is unpubhshed, 
and is to be found in the Manuscript Room of the British Museum.* 
Its abbreviated title, to which I have already referred, is Relatione 
della gran cittd di Costantinopoli. In addition to the description of the 
Seragho some account of the general topography is given, together 
with notes on the chief mosques, palaces, fountains, markets, hos- 
pitals, etc. 

From the above-mentioned piazza one enters a narrow corridor which 
leads to another court with a garden of various flowers ; here on one 
side are the rooms of the Grand Turk, and when the women wait upon 
him they pass through high corridors by means of a key to the door 
which he reserves for himself alone, or his Chief Eunuch.^ 

« Harl. MSS., 3408, ff. 83-141. 

* This extract and the two which follow are taken from Harl. MSS., 3408, ff. 101&- 



After referring to the rooms set apart for the mutes and dwarfs 
he continues: 

On the side where the women are in attendance there are forty-four 
separate courts with conveniences of baths and fountains in each, so 
that one does not look into the other, but he [the Sultan] has access by 
a secret corridor by means of which each can be entered without the 
others being any the wiser. Communicating with the women's rooms 
are the suites where the Grand Turk's children — that is to say, die 
males — are brought up; for the women remain with their mothers, 
and the boys on arriving at the age of six are taken from their mothers 
and placed in other rooms allotted to them with the masters who teach 
them. The aforesaid rooms of the Grand Turk stretch from the side of 
the men's suites to that of the women's apartments — that is to say, the 
40 [44 ( ?)] suites, each with its hall, chamber and conveniences of baths, 
fountains, gardens and aviaries, [built] with surprising cunning and 
ornamented with panels of painted flowers, but not figures, and hung 
with divers lovely brocades, with carpets on the floors and brocaded 
mattresses and cushions — the bedsteads all of ivory inlaid with aloes 
and sandal-wood and large pieces of coral, of which one was sent to 
Amurat from Hiemen [Hiamen, Amoy, in China ( ?)] which cost more 
than 90 thousand scudi. 

After describing a secret treasury — of which no trace or record 
exists to-day — built under both the men's and the women's suites 
of rooms he proceeds to give an account of the seldmlik gardens and 
the kiosk which stood apparently somewhere very near the site to 
be occupied later by the Baghdad Kiosk. 

Leaving this place, one enters gardens full of perfumes extending 
to another wall a mile and a half in circumference, and then, passing 
this other wall, they reach the garden rooms which are situated be- 
tween the wall of the aforesaid garden and the other one, which is the 
sea-wall. And in the middle of this garden are many well-designed 
rooms, but one in particular of six facades surmounting six large 
columns, and between the colunms are slabs of rock crystal so cun- 
ningly inlaid the one v^th the other that as one looks on them they 
appear to be a single whole, and above is a cupola with a lantern 
covered with lead, gilded, and damascened. But the lantern has pillars 
of carved rock crystal, and the top is made of pieces of coral wonder- 
fully put together one piece with another. It shines in the splendour 
of the sun, dazzling the sight, and owing to the altitude of the building 
one can see from the rooms every detail of the entire garden from side 



to side. And in a third part of the same garden at the back of the 
women's lodgings is the treasury of the armoury, with horse trappings 
all set in gems, and there is another just hke it behind the rooms where 
the pages are trained, as already mentioned. 

The rest of the account of the Seraglio is taken up with a brief 
description of the Hbraries, the dispensary, the mosques, the table 
and food of the Sultan, the kitchens, and the stables. After this 
Hierosolimitano describes other parts of the city, especially the 
arsenal, with its personnel, the town mint, and various parts of Pera. 
The entire manuscript, however, is well worth pubHshing, and is 
comparatively easy to read. 

The first Christian to describe any part of the Seraglio from per- 
sonal knowledge, apart from those actually employed in the Palace, 
was an English organ-builder named Thomas Dallam, and to his 
account I now turn. 

Thomas Dallam (1599) 

In order to explain how it happened that such a man found his 
way into the Seraglio it will be necessary to refer very briefly to 
what was taking place at Constantinople at the time with regard to 
intercourse with foreigners. As early as the eleventh century the 
Venetians and Genoese had obtained trading rights (known later as 
' capitulations ') from the Greek Empire, and after the capture of 
Constantinople by the Turks followed the Byzantine custom by 
renewing them.^ In 1535 they were granted to the French by Sulei- 
man, and the English soon began to obtain similar advantages with 
the founding of the Levant Company. In 1580 William Harbome, 
who was to be first EngHsh Ambassador to the Porte, obtained such 
rights for England, and as a result received a commission from 
Elizabeth, and was sent out again as a representative of the company, 
which had been officially foimded in 1581. 

Harbome did his work well, but the expenses of the company 
were heavy and competition was keen. Although the fmancial help 

' See Nasim Sousa, The Capitulatory Regime of Turkey (John Hopkins University, 1933), 
and A. C. Wood, History of the Levant Company (Oxford, 1935), pp. 8-9. 



afforded by Elizabeth left much to be desired she fully realized that 
the Sultan was a possible ally against Spain, and gave Harbome a 
pretty free hand in organizing the trade of the new company. After 
various setbacks a new charter was obtained in 1592, and the affairs 
of the company prospered. In 1588 Edward Barton had been left 
as agent by Harborne, and succeeded as Ambassador about 1591. 

Four years later the Sultan, Murad III, died, and with the accession 
of Muhammad III it became necessary for the company to renew 
the capitulations, which meant letters of congratulation and hand- 
some presents from the Queen of England. The former, with 
Burghley's assistance, were forthcoming, but the latter had to be 
supphed by the company. This fact was naturally kept a dead 
secret, and the gifts were offered as from Ehzabeth, and nobody was 
any the wiser. ^ There was, however, a long delay, and they were 
not dispatched until 1599. By this time Barton had died, and it was 
his secretary, Henry Lello, who actually presented the gifts. 

Chief among them was the elaborate organ that had been especially 
built by Thomas Dallam. Owing to its highly technical and com- 
plicated construction Dallam was sent out with it in order to erect 
it on arrival and make sure it was in perfect working order. 

From this man, then, we have the first account by an outsider, 
meagre and not very intelHgent though it may be, of the Seraglio. 

After a voyage lasting nearly seven months Dallam arrived at 
Constantinople in the middle of August 1599, and when prehminary 
visits to the ship by the Sultan and his mother were over he was told 
to set up his instrument in the Seraglio. The job was a long one, 
and Dallam visited the Palace every day for a month. In view of 
the opportunities he must have had for a fairly comprehensive 
inspection of the seldmlik the account is disappoiuting, but certain 
portions of it are well worth reproducing : 

The nth. Daye, beinge Tuesdaye, we Carried our instramente over 
the water to the Grand Sinyors Courte, Called the surralya, and thare 
in his moste stadyeste house I began to sett it up. ... At everie gate 
of the surraHa thare alwayes sitethe a stoute Turke, abute the calinge 
or degre of a justis of the peace, who is caled a chia [kapici, gatekeeper] ; 
not withstandinge, the gates ar faste shut, for thare pasethe none in or 

' See H. G. Roscdale, Queen Elizabeth and the Levant Company (London, 1904). 



oute at ther owne pleasures. . . . The waye from the firste gate to the 
seconde wale is som thinge risinge up a hill, betwyxte wales aboute a 
quarter of a myle and better. The gats of the second wale was also 
shutt. . . . These gates ar made all of massie iron; tow men, whom they 
do cale jemeglans [ajem-oghlans, untrained youths, apprentice janis- 
saries], did open them. Wythein the firste wales ar no housis but one, 
and that is the bustanjebasha [Bostanji-bashi, Head Gardener] his house, 
who is captaine of a thousande jemeglanes, which doo no thinge but 
kepe the garthens in good order ; and I am perswaded that thare is none 
so well kepte in the worlde. Within the seconde wales tharis no 
gardens, but statly buildinges ; many courtes paved with marble and 
suche lyke stone. Everie ode [oda, room or chamber of the pages ; 
elsewhere it means a company of janissaries] or by corner hath som 
exelente frute tre or tres growing in them ; allso thar is greate abund- 
ance of sweete grapes, and of diveres sortes. . . . Cominge into the 
house whear I was appoynted to sett up the presente or instramente ; 
it semed to be rether a churche than a dwellinge house; to say the 
truthe, it was no dwellinge house, but a house of pleasur, and lyke wyse 
a house of slaughter ; for in that house was bulte one Htde house, verrie 
curius bothe within and witheout ; for carvinge, gildinge, good Collors 
and vemishe, I have not sene the lyke. In this Hde house, that emperor 
that rained when I was thare, had nyntene brotheres put to deathe in it, 
and it was bulte for no other use but for the stranglinge of everie em- 
perors bretherin. This great house it selfe hathe in it tow rankes of 
marble pillors ; the pettestales of them are made of brass, and double 
gilte. The wales on three sides of the house ar waled but halfe waye 
to the eaves ; the other halfe is open ; but yf any storme or great wynde 
should hapen, they can sodonly Let fale suche hanginges made of cotten 
wolle for that purpose as will kepe out all kinds of wethere, and sudenly 
they can open them againe. The fourthe side of the house, which is 
close and joynethe unto another house, the wale is made of purfearc 
[porphyry], or suche kinde of stone as when a man walketh by it he 
maye se him selfe tharin. . . . Thare weare in this house nether stouls, 
tables, or formes, only one coutche of estate. Thare is one side of it a 
fishe ponde, that is full of fishe that be of divers collores.' 

And, except for an interesting account of "thirtie of the Grand Sin- 
yor's Concobines" whom he saw through an iron grating in a wall 
(to which we shall return in another part of the work), that is all 
Dallam has to tell us. 

It seems to be almost certain that his "great house," with its two 

' Early Voyages and Travels in the Levant (Hakluyt Society, London, 1893), pp. 61-63. 

c 33 


rows of pillars, is the large L-shaped hall which flanks two sides of 
the Pavihon of the Holy Mantle (No. 95 in the plan). It must be 
remembered that at this time neither the Baghdad Kiosk nor the 
Revan was built, neither was the Hall of Circumcision. The fish- 
pond is still there, although it was entirely rebuilt after Dallam's day. 
This L-shaped hall, of which I shall speak more fully later from 
personal inspection, is in my opinion the fmest part of the whole 
SeragUo, and might easily be described as resembling a church. 
There is ample room for a large organ to be erected, and also for any 
number of people to Hsten to it ; the acoustics would be excellent, 
and it would be difficult to imagine a better place for our organ- 
maker to show oflf his "instramente." He correctly describes one 
side of the house as being open to the winds of heaven. To-day a 
glass partition has been built, but a moment's inspection reveals 
its original form. The "litle house" wherein we are informed 
Muhammad III had his nineteen brothers strangled may be either the 
reception-room of the seldmlik (No. 92 in the plan) or else that 
which was immediately afterwards to be the Princes' prison — the 
KafeSy or Cage (No. 90). 

Thus we see that the first description of any part of the House of 
FeHcity by a person not permanently employed in the Palace deals 
only with the eastern comer of the seldmlik, to which Dallam was 
conducted from SeragUo Point, and not through the Third Court. 

Ottaviano Bon (1604-7) 

The Venetian Bailo Ottaviano Bon can be regarded as the first 
definite claimant, for it must be noted that although Dallam was not 
actually in the service of the Seraglio he was temporarily employed 
there, and merely described what he chanced to notice in the 
course of his duty, while Hierosohmitano was very definitely in its 

But in the present case matters were very different. As we shall 
shortly see, Bon was a diplomatist of considerable experience, and 
was doubtless anxious to obtain as much information as possible 
about the SeragUo by the termination of his office in Constantinople. 
These Bailos were originally the equivalent of a consul-general, but 



from the sixteenth century onward they assumed the rank of a first- 
class diplomatic agent. They were instructed to send home reports 
every fortnight, and on their return after three or four years to submit 
a detailed account of the Court they had been visiting, together with 
a description of the country, its manners and customs. As can be 
imagined, these reports contain matter of the highest importance.^ 
By some curious chance, however, Bon made no such report, as far 
as can be traced, but luckily for us he wrote two accounts which are 
preserved in the Bibhoteca Marciana,^ or Library of St Mark, at 
Venice. They have been edited by N. Barozzi and G. Berchet, and 
included in their Le Relazioni degli stati Europei kite al senate degli 
ambasciatori veneziani nel secolo decimo-settimo.^ 

The first of these accounts is on the Seragho, and constitutes the 
most detailed and informative account we have. The second one is 
very brief, and deals with the government and administration of 
various parts of the Turkish Empire. Before giving a few lines on 
Bon's life and quoting from his account, which (with the help of 
my friend Miss Frances Welby) I have translated direct from the 
Italian, I must refer to a * discovery ' I made only when the translation 
was completed. 

Much of the account seemed strangely familiar, and I was unable 

to guess why until I remembered the little work by Robert Withers 

published in 1650 '^ as A Description of the Grand Signors Seraglio or 

Turkish Emperours Court. A comparison of the two at once showed 

them to be one and the same work. Withers' translation was found 

in Constantinople and edited by John Greaves, the mathematician 

and antiquary. He was apparently quite unaware that it had already 

' Many of them have been summarized, or pubHshed in externa. See Marini Sanuto, 
Diarii, 58 vols. (Venezia, 1 879-1903); Eugenio Alberi, Relazione degli ambasciatori Veneti 
al senato, 15 vols. (Firenze, 1839-63). For details see Lybyer, Government of the Ottoman 
Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent, pp. 311-313, and particularly the magnifi- 
cendy illustrated work of Tomaso Bertele, II Palazzo degli ambasciatori di Venezia a Con- 
stantinopoli e le sue antiche memorie (Bologna, 1932). 

2 Cl. vii, cod. 578, 923. 

3 See Serie V: Turchia (1866), pp. 59-115. An account of Bon's life appears in Serie I: 
Spagna (1856), pp. 217-222. See also Luigi LoUino, Vita del cav. Ottaviano Bon, tradotta 
da G. Marchiori, publ. da Aless. Soranzo (Venezia, 1854). The account of the Seragho was 
also pubhshed separately as II serraglio del gran signore descritto a Constantinopoli nel 1608, 
con notizie sul Bon di Gugl. Berchet (Venezia, 1865). 

•♦ The British Museum also catalogue a second edition of 1652, but the book has im- 
fortunately been lost or mislaid. 



been published by Purchas,* and, of course, had never heard of Bon. 
As nobody else seems to have reaUzed the connexion between Bon 
and Withers I may perhaps be permitted to discuss the matter 
further. Little appears to be known of Robert Withers, and I can 
fmd no mention of him in any biography. In fact, the only informa- 
tion about his stay in Constantinople that I can trace occurs in 
Purchas' introduction : 

These [accounts] hath Master Robert Withers collected: after his 
ten yeeres observation at Constantinople, where he was educated by 
the care and cost of that late Honourable Embassadour from His 
Majestie, Sir Paul Pindar, and well instructed by Turkish Schoole- 
masters in the Language, and admitted also to further sight of the un- 
holy Holies than is usuall.^ 

Now Paul Pindar was Ambassador from 1611 to 1620, having 
previously been secretary to Henry Lello, Ambassador from 1597 to 
1607. When he left for London in 1620 Robert Withers went with 
him. This we know from the Travels of Peter MundyJ Thus, if 
Purchas is correct in his information, Withers arrived in Con- 
stantinople in 1610, and Pindar became his patron and protector, 
just as he did to Mundy himself. Pindar, previous to his residence 
in Constantinople, had spent fifteen years in Venice, and was naturally 
well acquainted with all the Bailos missions to Constantinople. He 
is most likely, therefore, to have seen Bon's report and to have shown 
it to Withers. The English translation was made, quite likely by both 
men, and remained unpubhshed at Constantinople. John Greaves 
arrived in 1638, discovered the manuscript, " the name of the Author 
being then unknown," and, after fmding it out later to be the work of 
Withers, pubHshed it in 1650, beheving that to be its first appearance. 
The Dictionary of National Biography confuses matters still more 
by giving the impression that it was an original work by Greaves : 

In the same year [1650] was published his ' Description of the Grand 
Seignor's Seraglio,' reprinted, along with the ' Pyramidographia ' and 
several other works, in 1737. 

Not a word about Withers, let alone Bon! 

' Pilgrims (London, 1625), vol. ii, lib. ix, pp. 1580-1611. 

* In the Hakluyt Society's — i.e., the MacLenose — reprint it is vol. ix, p. 321. 

' R. C. Temple (Hakluyt Society, 1907), vol. i, p. 42. 



That Withers did translate from Bon is obvious to anyone com- 
paring the two versions. Withers gives his distances in Itahan 
milage; in places difficult w^ords are ignored — e.g., hulgaro, Russia 
leather — w^here observations are in parentheses they are seldom in 
Bon, but additions by Withers, often trivial and in strange contrast 
vv^ith the rest of the text. Finally, when Bon speaks of how he got 
into the Seraglio through his personal acquaintance with the Chief 
Gardener Withers omits the whole passage, which looks rather as if 
he was 'borrowing' the account, merely adding his own trifling 
remarks ! Be that as it may, this account of the Seragho was neither 
by Greaves nor by Withers, but by Ottaviano Bon, written between 
the years 1604 and 1607, and to him alone is the credit of this fme 
description due. 

Yet Withers was not the only one to make use of Bon without 
acknowledgment, for in 1624 Michel Baudier, historian to Louis XIII, 
published his Histoire generalle du serrail et de la com du grand seigneur^ 
which ran into many editions in France, and was translated into 
Enghsh by Edward Grimstone in 1635. Although, as a compiler, 
Baudier used other material his debt to Bon was very great, as a 
comparison between the two will at once testify. 

Born at Venice in 155 1, and graduating in philosophy and law at 
Padua University, Bon became successively Inquisitor at Candia, 
Podesta at Friuli and Treviso, and Ambassador Extraordinary to the 
Court of Phihp III of Spain at Valladolid in 160 1. He returned the 
following year, and in 1604 was sent in the same capacity to Ahmed I. 
He remained in Constantinople as Bailo for three years to the 
credit of his country. On his return to Venice he became a member 
of the Pregadi (Senate), where he greatly distinguished himself. In 
1616 he was sent to Paris to obtain the French King's mediation 
in the quarrel between Savoy and Venice on the one hand and 
Austria and Spain on the other. Complications finally led to 
his recall, but complete vindication followed, and though now 
old and infirm he was appointed Podesta of Padua. He died in 

The value of Bon's account of the Seraglio lies rather in the detail 
of the description as a whole than in that of any particular room he 
chanced to see in the seldmlik. 



The harem proper he never entered, and when speaking of it he 
merely says : 

. . . there is the women's apartment inhabited by the Queen Sultana, 
the Sultan, and all the other women and slaves of the Grand Signore ; 
and this apartment is like a huge nunnery in which are aU the conveni- 
ences of dormitories, refectories, baths, sitting-rooms, and every other 
kind of building that hving demands.^ 

After giving some account of the various buildings in the Second 
Court and of the Throne Room at the entrance to the Third Court 
he commences to tell us how he managed to obtain a sight of some 
of the Sultan's rooms in the seldmlik : 

On one occasion, finding the King absent on the chase, owing to my 
friendship with Chiaia, who is the steward of the Bustangihassi — that 
is to say, chief of the King's gardeners — I had the privilege of entering 
the SeragHo, under his escort, by the sea gate of the Sea-horses, and 
was taken by him to see the various rooms reserved for the King, 
several baths, and many other things as deUghtful as they were curious, 
both in the richness of the gold-work and in the abundance of foun- 
tains. In particular I saw a suite of rooms, in the summer wing, on a 
hillock, complete with dining-room and other chambers in so lovely 
a site that it might well be the place and dweUing of so great a king. It 
was the Divan [not to be confused with the Hall of the Divan in the 
Second Court. ' Divan ' is used in many senses ; that employed by Bon 
is perfecdy correct] — that is to say, the hall open towards the east, rest- 
ing on most beautiful columns looking on to a small lake, square in 
form, artificially made from thirty different fountains [by the water's 
being] led off and visible in an aqueduct of the fmest marble which 
surrounded this lake, so that the fountains discharged the water from 
that aqueduct into the lake. Its water was then drained off gradually 
to some gardens, thus making the place most dehghtful. Two men 
can walk along the aqueduct abreast, and follow it round to enjoy the 
fountains, which emit a continuous and gentle murmur. On the lake 
was a tiny httle boat into which I was told his Majesty was wont to 
enter with buffoons to sail for recreation and to divert himself with 
them on the water, and very often, walking with them on the aque- 
duct, he would push them in and make them turn somersaults in the 
lake. Through a window in the Divan I also saw his Majesty's bed- 
room, which was of ordinary size, the walls, as usual, encrusted with 
stones — ^namely, the fmest majohca, which displayed patterns and 

* Barozzi and Berchet, p. 60. 


flowers of different colours, producing a splendid effect. Over the 
door were curtains, as usual, but of cloth of gold from Brusa with a 
frieze of crimson velvet embroidered in gold and enriched with many- 

The bed was hke a Roman paviHon, with columns of fluted silver, 
instead of wooden supports [pomoli]. It had crystal Hons, and the 
hangings were of cloth of gold and green Brusa brocade without 
trimmings, in place of which were lacings made of pearls, showing 
it to be a work of great value and very well contrived. The quilts 
were rather more than a hand's breadth from the ground and of gold 
brocade, as were also the cushions. The floors, both of this room and 
the others, with their sofas (which are places used for sitting down) 
about half a cubit from the ground, were all covered with the richest 
Persian carpets in silk and gold, and the quilts for sitting on and the 
cushions to lean against were all of the finest brocades in gold and silk. 

In the centre of the Divan hung a very large lantern, round in shape, 
with its drops of silver inlaid with gold, encrusted with turquoises and 
rubies, the intermediate parts being of the finest crystals, producing a 
splendid effect. For washing the hands was a minute basin, its ewer 
being entirely of massive gold set with very lovely turquoises and 
rubies — a fme sight to behold. Behind the said Divan was an archery 
ground, where I saw fme bows and arrows, and I was shown marks of 
former feats of the King's strong arm with the arrow so great that they 
were scarcely to be credited. 

And so ends Bon's visit to the seldmlik. This is the last description 
of the square lake and terrace before the Revan and Baghdad Kiosks 
were built (1635 and 1639 respectively) and the whole area was 
remodelled. As I have already mentioned, Bon's account of the 
Seraglio is valuable as a whole, and consequently I shall have occasion 
to make several further extracts as the work proceeds. 

Edmund Chishull (1701) 

The next account of the Seraglio was included in a book of travels 
by Edmund Chishull.^ It was published posthumously by his friend 

' Travels in Turkey and back to England, by the late Reverend and Learned Edmund 
Chishull, B.D., Chaplain to the Factory of the Worshipful Turkey Company at Smyrna 
(London, 1747). For his biography see A. Chalmers, General Biographical Dictionary, and 
the Dictionary of National Biography. His numerous manuscripts were purchased By the 
British Museum, who possess a copy of his Antiquitates asiaticce (1728) full of his manu- 
script notes. 



Dr Mead in 1747. ChishuU was bom at Ey worth, Bedfordshire, 
in 1670-71, and went to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1687, 
where, having received "a grant of the traveller's place," he was 
appointed to the factory of the Turkey Company at Smyrna. A 
sermon he had preached to the Levant Company is said to have done 
much to secure him the post of chaplain. 

He left England in February 1698, and arrived at Smyrna in 
November. After a tour to Ephesus in 1699 he visited Constantinople 
in 1701, and returned home the same year. His account, then, dates 
from this time, nearly a hundred years later than that of Bon. It is 
quite short, and ChishuU is not very clear about his itinerary. 

It would appear that he made his way through the First and 
Second Courts, but did not continue past the Gate of Fehcity into 
the Third Court, as we next fmd him outside in the Palace gardens. 
It seems clear, then, that he made his exit by some side-door in the 
Second Court, unless he retraced his steps and made a complete 
circuit of the grounds outside the main wall. However this may have 
been, he arrived in due course at the Goths' Column and made his 
entrance afresh, now closely following in the footsteps of Dallam. 

He succeeded in actually seeing the door of the harem, which he 
probably reached via the Golden Road. 

In his Travels in Turkey ChishuU writes as foUows : 

By the interest of a Greek, who serves the bostangi basha as his sur- 
geon, I was admitted in company of Mr. John Philips, an eminent 
merchant, into the great Seraglio of Constantinople, where we passed 
thro two courts, that form the entry of the palace ; the first of which 
has a small arsenal, furnished with arms and ammunition ; the second 
has piazzas on two sides, in which the janisaries are wont to eat, and 
opens at the upper end into the divan. 

From these two courts we were permitted to walk round the fuU 
extent of the garden, on each side of the palace. . . . The whole plot of 
ground, which they call the gardens of the Seraglio is covered with 
cypress and other trees, thro which are cut shady walks, where kiosks 
are seen of various sorts. . . . Passing thro the extent of the Seraglio 
towards the extreme point, that looks up the Thracian Bosphorus, you 
observe a Corinthian pillar consisting of white marble . . . near this 
pillar we were admitted thro a gate, which opens into a green court, 
and that again into a garden kept in somewhat a regular order. From 
hence we ascend by a few steps into an apartment of the Grand Signior„ 



where are two rich kiosks, a fish pond, a paved walk, and an open 
gallery. Here we were shewn the lodgings, where the unhappy princes 
of the empire are detained prisoners, as also the dark chambers of the 
ichoglans, and the door that leads into the harem. . . . 

The above mentioned gallery is rich and splendid, adorned with 
various gilding of flower work, and supported with beautiful serpen- 
tine pillars. In the sides of one of the kiosks are three orbicular stones 
of fine porphyry, the middlermost of which is curiously pohshed, and 
thereby serves to reflect the prospect of the Seraglio and adjoining city, 
in the nature of a looking glass. . . .^ 

The itinerary is easy to follow, as a glance at the plan will at once 
reveal. The only point of interest is the " open gallery," which I do 
not agree with Dr Miller in taking to be the same as the terrace be- 
tween the Kiosk of Baghdad (No. 114) and the Hall of Circumcision. 
Her own plan is so wrongly drawn at this point, with regard to 
the number and the size and the shape of the buildings and the 
general proportions of the courts to the buildings, that it is hard to 
believe that she could have inspected them personally. It seems quite 
clear that after leaving the "paved walk" near the Baghdad Kiosk 
ChishuU was conducted along the "open gallery" (No. 95) — which 
is a perfectly good description of the pillared hall open on the western 
side — into the courtyard of the Kafes, or Princes' prison (No. 91). 
The " dark chambers " are hard to recognize, but as parts of the Royal 
Road (No. 75) are dark, and small rooms do lead off, and the road 
does connect directly with the harem door, I think we can conclude 
that this was the route he followed. We are not told how he got 
back, but most likely he retraced his steps (as he had not been allowed 
in the Third Court) and returned through the gardens to SeragHo 
Point. I can say nothing about the "three orbicular stones," and 
conclude that they have followed the course of so many things in the 
Seraglio. But we are still outside the harem. It was destined for a 
Frenchman to take us inside. 

AuBRY DE La Motraye (1699-1714) 

This French traveller and writer, bom about 1674, was for many 
years a religious refugee in England. His travels in Europe were 

' Pp. 4-^. 


extensive, including visits to Sweden, Lapland, Prussia, France, Spain, 
Italy, Greece, Russia, Circassia, and Turkey. He arrived in Smyrna 
at the beginning of 1699, and moved to Constantinople in June of 
the same year. He made it his headquarters until he left for Sweden 
in 1714. The chief account of his travels was published in London 
in two volumes, under the title Travels through Europe, Asia, & into 
Part of Africa.^ A third volume was added nine years later. His 
biographers* describe him as a "voyageur veridique, mais observa- 
teur superficiel," which would seem to be a fair criticism. At the 
same time, he was the furst outsider to inspect the interior of several 
rooms of the harem, although it must be confessed that such rooms 
as he describes no longer exist to-day. It was only by a series of 
lucky chances that he was able to see as much as he did. It seems 
that the regulating of the numerous harem clocks was in the hands of 
Swiss and French clock-makers who had settled in Galata and Pera. 
Motraye became acquainted with some of them, and, on learning that 
an order had been received to mend some pendulums in the Seraglio, 
prevailed on the clock-maker in question to take him as his 

"I dress'd my self after the Turkish manner," says Motraye, "as 
he did likewise, and (which happen'd very fortunately to gratify my 
Curiosity the more) the Grand Seignior was then at Adrianople with 
all his Court." ^ He entered in the ordinary way through the First 
and Second Courts. Having reached the Third Court, he apparently 
turned left in the direction of the first room of the harem leading 
into the Golden Road. The rooms he describes must have been 
either adjacent to the courtyard of the harem slaves (No. 44) or else 
farther west, where the so-called harem hospital now Hes (No. 56). 
Motraye was himself the first to reaUze how muddled his account 
was, so that even if the rooms still existed it would be hard to follow 
his itinerary : 

I found my Head so full of the Sophas, rich Cieling, and in one word, 
of the great Confusion of fine things so irregularly disposed, that 

' 1723- 

* See L. Michaud, Biographic universelle, xxix, pp. 434-435, and J. C. F. Hoefer, Nouvelle 
Biographic generale, xxix, p. 275. The name is sometimes spelled ' Mottraye.' 
» Vol. i, p. 170. 



'twou'd be very hard for me to give a clear Idea of diiem, and I did 
not stay long enough to make an exact description. 

They w^ere handed over to the care of a black eunuch, who 
apparently volunteered no information whatever. 

The Eunuch conducted us into the Hall of the Harem, which seem'd 
to me the finest and most agreeable of any in the Seraglio, where an 
English Clock, with a magnificent Case and Stand, wanted, his Assist- 
ance to rectify it. This room was incrusted over with fine China ; and 
the CieHng, which adorn'd the Inside of a Cupola, as well as the rest 
of the Roof, was the richest that could be with Gold and Azure ; in 
the middle of the Hall, directly under the Cupola, was an Artificial 
fountain, the Bason of which was of a precious Green Marble, which 
seem'd to me either Serpentine, or Jasper ; it did not play then on 
account of the Womens being absent. . . . There were several large 
Windows in this Hall, which besides Glass, have Lattices before them : 
They had also Httle Sofas, which had some Pieces of painted CaUico 
flung over them to preserve them from Dust, &c. Upon these Sofas 
the Ladies sit to breathe the fresh Air, and recreate their Eyes thro' the 
Lattice. After the Clock in the Hall was put in order, the Eunuch made 
us pass by several httle Chambers with Doors shut, hke the Cells of 
Monks or Nuns, as far as I- cou'd judge by one that another Eunuch 
open'd, which was the only one I saw, and by the Outside of the others 
. . . this chamber was more richly adorn'd with Paintings and Gilding, 
than the Hall itself; the bottom of the Windows were above the Reach 
of the tallest Man, with Glass painted of divers Colours, almost hke 
those in some Christian Churches, excepting that there were no Figures 
of any hving Creature. 

Then La Motraye adds, as an explanatory parenthesis : 

N.B. In comparing the Chambers of the Grand Seignior s Women 
to the Cells of Nuns, we must except the Richness of the Furniture, 
as well as the Use they are put to ; the Difference of which is easy 
enough to be imagin'd without Exphcation. 

They were then conducted to " a Room that looked upon the 
Garden," of which no description is given. After crossing " several 
fme Halls and Chambers, treading under Foot the rich Persian 
Carpets that were spread upon the Gromid almost every where," 
they made their exit through the seldmlik, down past the Goths' 
Column, to SeragHo Point. 



Jean-Claude Fl achat (1740-55) 

Wc now come to a French manufacturer named Jean-Claude 
Flachat, who holds the distinction of being the first foreigner to see 
the whole of the Seragho, including the harem. As details of his 
interesting experiences seem to be very little known I shall make no 
apology for dealing with him rather fully. All biographies are silent 
about the date and place of his birth, but we can fairly safely put 
them at about 1720 and at Saint-Chamond, lying in a picturesque 
valley at the juncture of the Gier and Janon, some twenty-eight 
miles south-west of Lyons. At any rate, his brother Hved in this 
to vm, Jean-Claude died there, and a Flachat was cure of Notre-Dame 
there in 1789. As a young man Jean-Claude conceived the idea of 
making an extended tour of the whole of the Levant and the Indies 
with the object of trading and learning all he could of the manu- 
facturing methods he might fmd, and to offer the results to his 
country. The scheme appeared too ambitious to the French Ambas- 
sador, who refused the necessary passport, allowing him only to 
travel to Constantinople and to make it his permanent headquarters. 
Consequently Flachat set out, and, passing through Holland, Italy, 
Germany, Hungary, Wallachia, and Turkey, arrived at his destina- 
tion in 1740. Here he settled for no less than fifteen years, during the 
reigns of Mahmud I and Osman III, and by diUgent and unremitting 
labour not only traded on a considerable scale in manufactured 
goods of all kinds, but taught the Turks how to make and use looms, 
dye cotton, plate copper, do tin-plating and other similar industrial 
trades. His friendship with the Chief Black Eunuch, the Kislar Agha 
Haji Bektash, was the main cause of his success. So interested did this 
Abyssinian become in Flachat's novelties that Flachat was created 
" Baserguian bachi," or First Merchant of the Grand Signor. He 
sold aU manner of things to the Seraglio, mechanical devices being 
in special demand. In fact, the bribe that led Haji Bektash to conduct 
him over the SeragUo consisted of an automaton of a man playing 
a drum, and others of a French girl and an Oriental slave, together 
with some diagrams of other machines, of which we are not given 
the details. Highly important as Haji Bektash was, it was more than 
his head was worth to show Flachat the Seragho openly, even 



though the Sultan was absent. " The gods of mythology," says 
Flachat, "manifest themselves to humans with less formality; the 
entrance to Tartarus is not more forbidden." But, as luck would 
have it, some mirrors sent by Louis XV to Mahmud I were being 
installed, and Flachat, with the Comte de Castellane, the French 
Ambassador at the Porte, was introduced among the workmen, 
and so any suspicions of the other eunuchs were unaroused. In this 
way practically the whole of the Seragho was inspected, and Flachat 
was a keen observer who would have illustrated his account with 
diagrams had leave been granted. Soon after the death of his bene- 
factor Flachat departed for Smyrna (in 1755), where he devoted 
much of his time to the study of madder, from the root of which the 
colouring matter for dyeing Turkey-red was obtained. The methods 
employed here by the Greeks in dyeing and kindred industries seemed 
to Flachat so important that on his return home the following year 
he took with him a number of the workmen. His efforts were 
rewarded by the King, who, by a decree of the Council of December 
21, 1756, granted a title of "manufacture Royale" to his brother's 
works at Saint-Chamond, expressly stating that Flachat's Greek 
workmen should be installed there to carry on their work, that work- 
shops would be open to the pubhc to study their methods, and that 
pupils would be taken. 

Ten years later appeared Flachat's story of his fifteen years in 
Constantinople, entitled Observations sur le commerce et sur les arts 
d*une partie de VEurope, de VAsie, de VAfrique, et mime des Indes 
orientalesJ The title gives but little idea of the contents, and perhaps 
for this very reason the work appears to have escaped notice. It is, 
moreover, of considerable rarity, and no copy exists in the British 
Museum, the London Library, or any of the leading hbraries where 
we might expect to find it. Unfortunately the book is small in size, 
and the diagrams of machines, etc., are much too crowded together 
and minute to be of much practical value. Of the later hfe of 
Flachat we know nothing, but imagine that it was entirely taken up 
with his experiments in his brother's manufactory at Saint-Chamond, 
where he died in 1775. 

But to return to his description of the harem, Flachat made a most 

* Two vols. (Lyon, 1766). 


thorough inspection of the whole Seragho, and, although it is difficult 
to trace some of the buildings he describes, there is much that I have 
been able to check, and in all such cases he is entirely reliable. His 
visit was very different from those of men hke ChishuU, being carried 
out in a leisurely and determined fashion. Flachat had intended 
making plans and sketches of all he saw, but this was too much even 
for his friend the Kislar Agha, and so, taking a hint not to abuse the 
favours already extended, he put his pencil back into his pocket, and 
trusted to his sight and memory for his subsequent descriptions. He 
not only deals with the Seraglio court by court, but describes all the 
kiosks of the Outer Palace in considerable detail, as well as the Summer 
Palace and the outer walls and gates. In fact, he apologizes for his 
lengthy discourse, and after telling us of his visits to the underground 
chambers and reservoirs leaves us without any account of them. In 
the course of the work I shall have occasion to refer to him from time 
to time. I shall here confme myself to giving his description of the 
quarters of the black eunuchs and some of the rooms of the harem. 
Having described the Palace School and gardens, and kiosks in the 
Fourth Court, he continues : 

You wiU notice that up to the present I have only spoken of the ex- 
teriors of the main buildings, of which it is quite easy to obtain a 
description. It is not so of the rooms of which I am now about to 

The room of the Cas-Odales [pages of the Has Oda, or Royal Cham- 
ber] forms the first section of the ground-floor apartments which He 
to the west. It is very large and paved in marble. The only ornament 
to this room is a large basin with a jet of water, around which there 
bum all night wax candles seven or eight inches in diameter in large 
copper candlesticks. The Cas-Odales are on guard there night and day. 
I shall not repeat again that all the roofs are covered with lead, with a 
lantern that gives hght in the large dome of each room, and that most 
of these domes are gilded. One passes from there into two vaulted 
rooms which the black eunuchs inhabit. An inner court separates 
them, and each room has stoves at the side for warming in winter. A 
long gallery covered by five domes, which stretches to the south, leads 
to a large vestibule ; it serves as an anteroom to the first apartment of 
the Grand Seigneur. One can also reach it by a higher gallery which 
joins up with that of the Kislar Aga. It is there that they introduce the 
chief officers of the Porte who have pressing matters to discuss with 



his Highness. A large number of black eunuchs Hve all round in Uttle 

This apartment has two doors, one to the north (that of the Sultan), 
and the other to the south (that of the Kislar Aga). The door to the 
north leads to a corridor where the rooms of the Karem are situated 
[Flachat always writes Karem, apparently to imply the guttural 'h' in 
harem]. They are of average size, all built in stone, and look on to a 
garden shut in by a very high wall. They are hght and well furnished. 
Their furniture consists of tapestries, czTipets, portieres, curtains, mirrors, 
clocks, caskets which are put in the corner of the sofa that goes all 
round and on which they remain night and day. I shall give later on 
a more detailed account of the materials with which this furniture is 

One passes from this first garden into a second. The two-storied 
kiosk, which is in the centre, is a lovely place. The Sultan very often 
goes there with the Sultanas. The main inside court of the Serrail is 
at the end of this garden. It consists of four blocks of buildings. The 
Sultan occupies that to the west, and the walls are all adorned with 
porcelain on the outside. The Sultanas occupy the rest, which are all 
uniformly built on fine arcades. This court closely resembles the royal 
square in Paris ; it is longer than it is broad. The rooms are warmed 
by stoves fitted on the ground floor : and owing to this the women do 
not feel the severe weather when they come out into the court. One 
reaches the Grand Seigneur's room by a superb staircase. The vestibule 
is square, the anteroom larger ; the room stretches as far as the angle of 
the court and ends on this side of the Serrail buildings. It is there one 
can get some idea of the wealth of the Sultans. All is of unparalleled 
magnificence. The window openings and ceilings are inlaid with 
flowered porcelain of remarkable finish. FoHage carved in gold covers 
the stucco which joins the slabs of porcelain. The walls are covered 
with tapestry of cloth of gold. The sofa is of a material just as 
rich. The mirrors, clocks, caskets, are all remarkable, and what is 
extraordinary is that nearly aU the chefs d'oeuvre are the produc- 
tions of foreign artists who have been employed to decorate the 

One next passes into the gallery where are situated the apartments 
of twelve Sultanas. They are large and richly furnished. The windows 
have iron grilles, and look into the courtyard. They have on the 
garden side sacnissis, or little jutting-out gazebos, where they go to sit 
and see the country and all that happens in the gardens without being 
seen. In the middle of the northern facade they have built a fore-part, 
which serves as an assembly room, as you might call it. All the women 
go there to pay their addresses to his Highness, and try and please him 



with a thousand amusements which follow on one after the other, and 
to which the inexhaustible fertiHty of the genius of these women always 
imparts the air of novelty. From there one goes to the large bath. It 
consists of three rooms, all of which are paved with marble. The 
middle one is the most ornamental ; its dome is supported by marble 
pillars and cut glass is let in to give it Hght. The rooms communicate 
one with the other by glass doors so that aU that goes on can be seen. 
Each basin has two taps, one supplying hot and the other cold water. 
The basins are neither of the same shape nor used for the same purposes. 
They have an eye for utiHty and beauty ahke. The women of lesser 
rank and the black eunuchs have baths apart, very neat and comfort- 
able. On leaving the grand Karem one goes down a corridor quite 
dark. It crosses the detached building which the eunuchs inhabit and 
leads directly to the prison of the Princes, the Sultan's sons who can 
aspire to the throne. This prison is hke a strong citadel. A high wall 
is built all round it. Osman caused it to be lowered and to have the 
windows opened. "^ It is entered by two doors carefully guarded by 
Eunuchs both within and without, each having a double iron railing. 
The place has a dismal appearance. There is a pretty enough garden, 
well watered. The Princes have fine apartments and baths in the 
detached buildings which surround the court. The Eunuchs detailed 
to their service all hve on the ground floor, and there is a large number 
of them. They spare no pains to mitigate their hard lot, and to make 
their prison at least endurable. For some long time the severity with 
which they were treated has been lessened. Women are given them, 
although it is a fact that they can no longer bear children, or else great 
care is taken to obviate their becoming pregnant. They have aU kinds 
of masters, and they even encourage them to perfect themselves in all 
handiworks that are appHcable to their rank. In a word, they leave 
nothing to wish for save freedom. They are, however, not Hmited to 
the apartments of the Grand Serrail alone ; the Sultan often conducts 
them to other Imperial houses, and especially to Besictache [i.e., 
Beshiktash, the first station on the left bank of the Bosphorus, just 
past the Palace of Dolma Baghtche], where they are shut up in the 
same way. These trips, always agreeable, make a welcome change for 

Although changes have taken place, and several of the harem rooms 
have since disappeared, it is fairly easy to trace the itinerary from the 
quarters of the black eunuchs (Nos. 34 and 35 in the plan) into the 
harem, along the Golden Road (No. 75), and so to the courtyard of 

' See also Flachat, vol. ii, p. 64. * Vol. ii, pp. 195-202. 



the Princes' prison (No. 91), which is here described for the first 

And with Flachat our small list of surreptitious visitors to the harem 
comes to an end. 

There now remains but to speak of those who were openly per- 
mitted beyond the Gate of Felicity. Their number, however, is very 
small, for, as I have already mentioned, the sHght relaxing of rules 
about admittance to the Seraglio, which occasionally occurred after 
the Palace had ceased to be a Royal residence, did not extend beyond 
the Third Court. 

Sir Adolphus Slade (1829) 

The first of these is Vice- Admiral Sir Adolphus Slade (1804-77), 
who reached Constantinople at the end of May 1829, and was in- 
cluded in a tour of the Seraglio made in honour of a visit to Mahmudll 
by the Admiral of the Mediterranean Fleet, Sir Pulteney Malcolm, 
in the following September. 

Slade's subsequent history was most interesting, for after being 
employed on several missions to Greece, Constantinople, and the 
Crimea he was lent to the Porte in 1849, for service with the Turkish 
fleet. In the next seventeen years he became administrative head of 
the Turkish Navy, and was known by the name of Muchaver Pasha. 
His account of the Seraglio ' is of no great interest to us, but shows 
just what important visitors (the Sultan thought Malcolm ranked 
third man in the British Empire, corresponding to his own Captain 
Pasha) were allowed to see at this period. They entered the Fourth 
Court by the Ugiincu Kapi, or Third Gate (No. 123 in our plan), and 
went through the courts in inverse order, visiting the Library (No. 97), 
the Arzodasiy or Throne Room (No. 96), the Divan (No. 23), and 
the kitchens (Nos. 6-17), which were in full activity: 

. . . not less than a hundred dinners were preparing, each at a yawning 
cavern of flames and smoke that might have graced Vulcan's work- 
shop, and hosts of lackeys were going or returning with full or empty 

' Records of Travels in Turkey, Greece, etc. . . . in the years iSzg, 1830, and 1831, 2 vols. 
(London, 1833). See vol. i, pp. 455^-470. In the " New Edition" of 1854, in one volume, 
the corresponding pages are 241-247. 

D 49 


They were then conducted through the gardens, where they met 
two mutes who surprised them by their good looks and perfect 
understanding of all that went on. 

As far as can be gathered, no inspection of the inner rooms of 
the harem was allowed, and the itinerary followed was merely that 
arranged for any such semi-official visit. 

Maxime Du Camp (1844-45) 

The next visitor to the SeragHo was Maxime Du Camp (1822-94), 
the French litterateur and artist, and intimate friend of Gustave 
Flaubert. He made many trips to various parts of Europe and the 
Near East, and served with Garibaldi in i860. His description of the 
Seragho dates from his first trip to the Orient (1844-45), ^^<^ appears 
in his Souvenirs et paysages d' Orients Having obtained the necessary 
firmariy the party entered by the Cannon Gate and, winding round 
past the Chinih Kiosk, reached the First Court, presumably near the 
Ortakapi, as one does to-day. They inspected the usual show rooms, 
including the Library, Throne Room, kitchens, and courts. The 
account is rather joumahstic and not worth quoting, except possibly 
the description of the Chief White Eunuch, which is as follows : 

II est vetu d'un splendide costume, et un turban blanc brode de 
palmes vertes s'enroule autour de son front. Ses traits fatigues annon- 
cent au moins soixante ans; il est si gros qu'il semble n'avoir forme 
humaine que parce que sa graisse debordante est contenue dans ses 
vetements. Ses joues jaunes et tombantes se plissent de mille rides 
entrecroisees. Il n'a point de barbe; un duvet d'enfant ombrage ses 
l^vres epaisses. Son ceil doux regarde lentement et parait s'entr'ouvrir 
avec peine. Sa main, qui tient les flexibles tuyaux d'un narguileh de 
cristal, brille k chaque doigt de bagues precieuses. Derriere lui, un 
jeune negre fait bomllir le cafe sur un rechaud portatif; il I'appelle, et 
sa voix est grele, criarde et faible comme ceUe d'une femme. 

Visitors in the Twentieth Century 

During the rest of the nineteenth century few visits are recorded, 
but any there were consisted merely of a formal inspection of the 

» Paris, 1848, pp. 197-211. 


regular show rooms as detailed above. In fact, there is nothing to 
report until in 1910 Professor Cornelius Gurlitt was accorded the un- 
precedented privilege of making a plan of the Second, Third, and 
Fourth Courts, which was subsequently used by Baedeker^ and in 
other guide-books. But he was not allowed to see the harem, and 
consequently all that portion is left blank in his plan. 

It was published in his Die Baukunst Konstantinopels, which is 
such a wonderfully produced work as to call for some description, 
especially as there is no copy in the British Museum or the London 
Library, 2 and also as it contains photographs with text of parts of 
the Seragho. 

It was published in Berlin, ^ and consists of two large portfolios of 
photographs of all the chief mosques, palaces, antiquities, schools, 
street scenes, etc., of Constantinople. A text of 112 pages, divided 
up into thirty-nine sections, with 224 plans and illustrations, was 
included by way of explanation. The Seraglio is dealt with at 
pp. 44-47 and 93-96, with fourteen plans and illustrations in all. As 
regards the plates, Gurhtt published no interiors of any rooms of the 
Seraglio, having to content himself with plans of the Baghdad Kiosk 
and the Arzodasi. Several photographs of the Chinili Kiosk are, 
however, included. The numbers of the plates are 12 a, h, c, and d. 

The plan of the Seraglio is Plate 12 e, and until recent years 
remained the only reliable one in existence. To-day it is valueless, 
and merely shows that the rooms of the seldmlik and the harem 
were as impossible of access in 19 10 as ever they were. Apart from 
including the usual show places (Divan, Gate of Felicity, Throne 
Room, Library, and Kiosks of Abd ul-Mejid and Baghdad) it is in 
reality only a plan of the courts. But the fact that such a plan was 
allowed to be made at all can be regarded as a surprising concession. 

To bring the story up to date we must turn to Dr Miller's Beyond 
the Sublime Porte,^ where we are told that after the dispersal of the 
harem by the Young Turks the first person — and, so far as is known, 
the first Turk ever — to enter the Seraglio was Abd ur-Rahman Shirif 
Efendi, the historian who subsequently published a series of eight 

* Konstantinopel (1914), p. 156. 

* Copies can be seen, however, at the libraries of the Victoria and Albert Museum and 
the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

3 1907-12. ♦ P, 16. 



articles (in Turkish) in the Tarikhi Osmani Enjumeni Mejmuasi, or 
Turkish Historical Review. ' A plan was included in one of the articles, 
but once again the harem was left blank. 

The first foreigner to visit the Seraglio under the new regime was 
(says Dr Miller) the Marchioness Pallavicini, wife of the Austrian 
Ambassador to Constantinople, who made a 'grand tour' in 1912. 
Shortly afterwards Mr W. W. Rockhill, the American Ambassador, 
was admitted, and the party included Dr Miller, who visited it 
again in 1916-19, when she collected material for her excellent work 
Beyond the Sublime Porte, ^ which included the most detailed plan 
ever made at that date. The information she collected and the highly 
important notes and bibliography have been my guide and chief 
source of information throughout the present work. In 1933 Dr 
Miller contributed a most interesting article on "The Curriculum of 
the Palace School of the Turkish Sultans" to the Macdonald Presenta- 
tion Volume.^ 

And so we complete our survey of people who have visited the 
Seraglio and the accounts they have left us. 

It will be agreed, I think, that prior to the present century no full 
account of the Seragho existed at all — for the very best reason in 
the world : nobody knew anything about it. It is impossible to say 
how long the Palace will stand or what new restrictions political 
changes may enforce. Thus I inspected it in detail while I could 
do so, and offer the results, such as they are, to my readers. 

' Nos. v-xii. 

* New Haven, Yale University Press. The book v^ras not published until 193 1. 

» Princeton University Press, New Jersey. 




I. Early History 

JjEFORE we discuss the Seraglio Hill in detail as it was when the 
Turks had crowned its summit with a palace for their Sultans it will 
be interesting to consider briefly the part played in earlier days by 
this incomparable promontory. We should do this not only because 
of the enormous changes that have occurred here, and the almost 
unique historical importance that attaches itself to this acropohs, 
but because of the puzzles and obstacles that to-day confront the 
student or intelligent tourist who critically inspects its slopes and 
Httoral. He will constantly be stumbling against half-hidden ruins, 
broken marble columns, crumbling arches, bases of ancient walls, 
fdled-in cisterns, disused wells, and so forth. Constantly he will be 
asking himself what it is he has chanced upon — Greek, Roman, 
Christian, or Turkish — and what part it has played in the history of 
the acropolis. It might well be any : in fact, a single wall or tower 
may contain materials of aU four. 

The whole district, therefore, can perhaps best be described as an 
architectural palimpsest. Each conquering people has left its mark here 
from the earhest times, erecting walls, altering names, pulling down 
palaces, utihzing the same material to build new ones, or maybe only 
a new gate — each improving according to its own views, but con- 
tinually piling up difficulties for the archaeologist or historian who 
tries to read the story of the stones aright and arrange things in their 
proper chronological order. 

It is extremely difficult to identify every ruin we come across. 
Before the railway, like a poisonous serpent, had thrust its devastating 
head round Seragho Point, crushing, maiming, and devouring as it 
went, it might have been possible for archaeologists, employing the 
modern horizontal method of digging, to make a really detailed 



survey of the entire promontory and to enumerate all the Byzantine 
churches and other important buildings that once stood here. But 
that is out of the question now, and we must be content with the 
little that recent research has been able to add to the discoveries of 
such scholars as Du Cange, Paspates, Mordtmann, von Hammer, 
van Millingen. Gurhtt, and the rest. 

From the dawn of history the unsurpassed beauty of Seraglio 
Point has been proverbial, as the well-known story of the first 
colonists shows ; for when in the seventh century B.C. the Dorians 
of Megara consulted the Oracle at Delphi as to the best site for a 
new colony they received the answer, "Build ye opposite the city of 
the blind! " Undismayed by the vagueness of such a reply, the hardy 
band of colonists set off and duly arrived at the Thracian Bosphorus, 
and founded a city on the site of a town called Lygos, to which Pliny 
alludes, but of which we know nothing. The promontory on which 
it stood had been selected for its beauty and strategic importance, and 
now the Oracle was explained, and they fully realized why the 
colony which had estabHshed itself a few years earher on the opposite 
shores at Chalcedon (the modem Kadikeuy) had been called "the 
blind."'' They named their new city Byzantium, after Byzas, their 
leader, the actual date of its foundation being variously given as 667, 
660, and 657 B.C. 

The choice of beautiful sites for their temples and theatres by the 
early Greek colonists is well known, and whether we turn to Paestum, 
Taormina, Segesta, Selenunte, or Girgenti their selective genius at 
once proclaims itself as we are lost in admiration first at the site as 
seen from a distance and then at the view from the building itself. 
But in the case under consideration nature had spoken in no uncertain 
voice, and we can allow our imagination, with but little fear of error, 
not only to identify what to-day is known as SeragHo Point with 
the acropoHs of Byzas, but to decorate it with temples and shrines 
dedicated to Demeter, Aphrodite, Zeus, Poseidon, and Apollo. 
Some of its fortifications still exist, and, with Turkish repairs and 
additions, support the steep sides of the SeragHo that face the Mar- 
mora. Remains of a Cyclopean wall were discovered near the sea 
when the railway was made in 1871, and can with but little doubt 
• See, however, Cambridge Ancient History, vol. iii, p. 659. 


i.yifrparte47LefLJ cLej^ jeffmhej du. (jran^\OetgrLeur 


cLe. Gaiata^ 



T&mflecUl ^S^Jopkie. 


be regarded as part of the outer fortifications of the Byzantine 

Just outside the Third Gate (V^uncii Kapi) of the SeragHo, in the 
pubHc gardens which overlook the Marmora, stands an ancient 
granite column known as the Goths' Column. It is said to have once 
supported a statue of Byzas. But here was situated the Theatron 
Minor of Septimius Severus (a.d. 193-21 i), and in those days the 
column formed part of the spina, or low dividing wall in the middle 
of the amphitheatre, just as the two obelisks and the Serpent Column 
once decorated the spina of the Hippodrome. In later days it was 
chosen to celebrate the victories of the Emperor Claudius Gothicus 
(268-270) over the Goths at Nissa, and has retained the name ever 

But such a site was soon bound to tempt the invader's hand, and 
the Golden Horn had already proved itself a true cornucopia. About 
the year 506 B.C. the settlement was destroyed by the satrap Otanes 
during the reign of Darius Hystaspes. It was, however, wrested 
from the Medes by the Spartan Pausanias after the famous battle of 
Plataea* in 479 B.C. A period of unrest followed, Byzantium siding 
in turn with the Spartans, the Rhodians, and the Athenians. In 
340 B.C. it was besieged by Philip of Macedon, and, although the 
situation was saved by the timely arrival of the Athenians, Byzan- 
tium was soon compelled to acknowledge the Macedonian supremacy 
under Alexander the Great. In succeeding centuries the city with- 
stood considerable losses at the hands of the Scythians, Gauls, 
Rhodians, and Bithynians. On the arrival of the Romans on the 
scene Byzantium sided with Pescennius Niger against Septimius 
Severus, with the result that the city was totally destroyed in a.d. 196, 
after a three years' siege. Later Severus regretted having done 
this, and rebuilt the city, adorning it with palaces, a theatre (as 
mentioned above), a hippodrome, and baths, and giving to it the 
new name of Antonina. The city, however, never fully recovered 

' The world-famous Serpent Column, still standing in the Hippodrome, or Et-meidan 
Square, which occupies a large part of the site to-day, is a reUc of this batde. Its three 
heads (one of which is now in the museum on SeragHo Hill) supported a golden tripod, 
which was a thank-offering to the temple of Apollo at Delphi from the thirty-one Greek 
towns which were involved in the struggle. Their names, once visible on the coils of the 
serpents, are now entirely obHterated. 



until it became the capital of the Roman Empire under Constantine 
the Great, who dedicated this New Rome on May ii, 330. The city, 
now twice the size of ancient Byzantium, was surrounded by a wall, 
fora were laid out, palaces and baths were erected, and the whole was 
divided up into fourteen Regions. The city was completed by 
Constantius (337-361), and other additions were made by subsequent 
emperors such as Valens, Theodosius I, Arcadius, Theodosius II (who 
built the land- and repaired the sea-walls), Marcian, and Anastasius. 
And so we come to the time of Justinian (527-565), when Sancta 
'"^ Sophia was built. At this time, too, silk was introduced from 


The building of the numerous walls continued under HeracHus, 
Leo the Armenian, Michael III, Manuel I Comnenus, and other 

With the endless sieges of the Huns, Slavs, Arabs, Bulgarians, 
and Russians we are not concerned. Nor is this the place to speak of 
the crusades of 1096-97 and 1147. 

By the end of the twelfth century the fate of the Byzantine Empire 
was sealed, and in 1203, or the Fourth Crusade, the Venetian Doge 
Dandolo took Constantinople by assault. The city was sacked, and 
the damage done to the Imperial palaces, which were robbed of 
all their treasures, was incalculable. The famous bronze horses of 
Lysippus still stand over the portico of St Mark's, in Venice. The 
Latin Empire lasted till 1261, when the city was taken by Michael 
Palaeologus and the Byzantine Empire restored. But its strength had 
gone, and after resisting the assaults of the Turks in 1398 and S422 
it finally fell on May 29, 1453, to Muhammad II, the Conqueror, 
and the last of the Emperors of the East, Constantine Dragases, 
perished heroically on the ramparts. 

Even from this hurried survey of the vicissitudes that fell to 
the lot of Constantinople until it became the capital of the Otto- 
man Empire it is possible to get some slight idea of the continual 
destruction and rebuilding that went on in the city: and we can 
well understand how Seraglio Point would suffer most of all, and 
appreciate how difficult, if not impossible, it would be for the 
archaeologist to sort out the composite ruins and arrange what 
remained in its right chronological order. 



2. The Walls and Kiosks 

But the story of the ruins is not completed, for we still have the 
Turkish buildings, restorations, and adaptations to consider. In order 
to do this it will be necessary to examine the sea- and land-walls, 
which enclose the whole of the promontory, in detail. The gates 
and kiosks will also demand our attention, and so in time we shall 
come to the First Court of the Seraglio itself. 

The capture of Constantinople by Muhammad II was merely the 
climax to a gradual westward movement of the Seljuk Turks and 
their efforts to establish a capital in Europe. 

The first Sultan ' of the Ottoman Turks, Osman I (1288-1326), 
died shortly after receiving news of the fall of Brusa, and with it 
the knowledge that his victorious son Orkhan (1326-59) would 
make Brusa his capital and continue the career of conquest which he 
himself had inaugurated. Orkhan successfully carried on the work 
of his father. Not only had he driven the Byzantines from their last 
stronghold in Asia, but he had invaded Europe, and opened the way 
for his son Murad I (1359-89) to transfer the seat of his government 
to Thrace permanently. This he did after th^ battle of Maritza in 
1363, and three years later Adrianople became the new capital of the 
Empire. At this period it was the custom of the Sultans to maintain 
a personal bodyguard recruited from the sons of conquered Christians, 
and in later days the idea developed into the creation of the corps 
of the janissaries, destined to play such an important and terrible part 
in the future history of the Empire. Its foundation has almost 
universally been attributed to Orkhan, but in the light of recent 
research we can no longer accept so early a date (see, further, p. 89). 

During the reigns of Bayezid I, Muhammad I, and Murad II the 
European conquests were further extended, until fmally Muhammad II 
took Constantinople itself. Thus, after being at Adrianople for nearly 
ninety years, the seat of government moved to the shores of the 

Almost at once Muhammad returned to Adrianople to prepare 

' We can call him 'Sultan' for convenience, but actually he styled himself simply 
'Emir,' like rulers of several petty states in Asia Minor. Orkhan was the first ruler to 
assume the title of ' Sultan.' 



for his attack against Serbia. But before doing so he looked for 
a suitable spot in Constantinople to build a palace which would be 
ready for him on his return. For one reason or another none of the 
existing palaces was suitable, through either bad state of repair or 
unfavourable position. Like Rome, the city was built on seven hills, 
and on the Third Hill, which had formerly been occupied by the 
Forum of Taurus, or Theodosius, the Conqueror chose to build his 
palace. Authorities are not agreed on the date of its completion, 
but it was in all probability ready for habitation the following year, 
1454, though possibly not completed until 1457. The exact number 
of years that the Sultan lived in the Palace is also disputed, but it 
would appear to be about ten. During this period it had become 
evident that the Palace was not large enough to be used both as a 
private and as an official residence, especially with the continual 
expansion of the newly formed Palace School. The desire for greater 
seclusion was also very possibly a determinative factor. At any rate 
a new site was sought where there would be plenty of room for 
expansion, where absolute privacy could be assured, and where 
strong fortification would be simple. The ideal spot which at once 
presented itself was the site of the Byzantine acropoHs on the First 

Work commenced in 1459, and the new palace was completed in 
1465. It was called the Yeni Sarayi (or Serai), or New Palace, in 
contradistinction to what was now the Eski Sarayi, or Old Palace. I 
have already (p. 17) referred to the various names given to the New 
Palace at different times and the muddle that resulted from repeated 

The first thing to be done to ensure complete seclusion was to 
build a strong inner wall round the apex of the hill which the Palace 
itself was to occupy, and cut off the whole of the Seraglio area from 
the rest of the city by a high land-wall running right across the hill 
from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmora. 

Protection from the sea — that is to say, on the Marmora coast — 
was already well provided for, as the ancient Byzantine sea-walls 
ran right round Seraglio Point, past the southern base of the acropoHs, 
and straight on till they joined the great land-wall of Theodosius at 
the Seven Towers. The section of this sea-wall which embraces the 



Seraglio was almost entirely built at the time of Septimius Severus, 
and extended as far as the present lighthouse — that is to say, to a 
point almost exactly in a line with the great double gate which led 
into the First Court of the SeragHo itself— the Imperial Gate, or 
Bab-i-Humayun. From the lighthouse the sea-wall was continued 
westward by Constantine the Great, the last portion near the Seven 
Towers being the work of Theodosius II. It will thus be seen 
that as early as the fourth century the whole of the seaboard was 
fully protected by a strong wall. Particular care was taken to build 
these walls so near the sea that the waters lapped their bases, thus 
affording no landing beaches for raiders, and at the same time allow- 
ing the strong currents to act as a further protection . Time had proved 
that sufficient protection to the coast was now acquired, and that 
the only danger to be constantly feared was from earthquakes and 

The Byzantine emperors were careful to repair the walls whenever 
such eventuahties occurred, and restorations were made by Justinian, 
Leo the Isaurian, Theophilus, Michael II, and Manuel Comnenus. 
Thus it can be fairly safely concluded that when Muhammad the 
Conqueror commenced building his New Palace he found the sea- 
walls in a comparatively good state of repair. 

In 1509, only twenty-eight years after his death, an earthquake 
occurred, damaging the walls badly. They were, however, immedi- 
ately repaired by Bayezid II, and again by subsequent Sultans as 
occasion demanded. 

The point on the Marmora where the new land-wall across the 
acropolis met the ancient sea-wall was in a direct line with Sancta 
Sophia. It lay almost midway between two gates (to which we shall 
return later) — the Balik Hane Kapi, Gate of the Fish-house, and the 
Akhor Kapi, or Stable Gate. 

From, here the land-wall runs up the hill in an eastward curve to 
the Imperial Gate. It has but one opening, the Kara Kapi, better 
known as the Giilhane Kapi, as it led towards the hospital of the same 
name. There are ten towers in this section of the wall. On the far 
side of the Imperial Gate the wall continues till it reaches the bottom 
of the hill, where it turns at right angles at the charming little Alai 
Kiosk, which faces the SubUme Porte (now nearly in ruins) across 



the road. At the time of its building there were six towers in this 
section, but only five remain to-day, owing to the sixth's being 
removed to make way for the gate (leading to the Seraglio park, now 
open to the public) known as the Soguk Qe§me Kapi, or Gate of the 
Cool Fountain. This is said to have been built by Sultan Ibrahim 
about 1645. When the park was ceded to the Prefecture by 
Muhammad V in 19 13 the gate was nearly destroyed by the Prefect 
in his efforts to allow greater movement of traffic. Luckily this step 
was prevented, and two small side-gates were opened up to meet 
the difficulty. 

But we must return to the Marmora coast and consider the gates 
and kiosks in their proper order, beginning at Seraglio Point itself 
and gradually working round the Marmora till we come to the 
Akhor Kapi, and then continuing over the hill and right round to the 
Golden Horn, and so back again to Seragho Point. 

As we start at the very point of the promontory the first gate to 
be considered is that which gave its name, and among the Turks 
still does, to the Seragho itself— the Topkapi, or Cannon Gate. No 
sign of it remains to-day, nor of the kiosk which stood next it. But 
of this I shall speak a Httle later. As is only to be expected, a gate, 
of one sort or another, always occupied this most important point. 
No details, or even the name, of any ancient propylceum or gate that 
must have once graced this site are known. In Christian times 
there was a gate dedicated to the patron saint of armourers and 
gunsmiths — St Barbara. Her protection was also especially sought 
against lightning. It is not known whether it occupied the very 
point of the peninsula or not, but in Turkish times the Topkapi was 
quite considerably towards the Marmora side. In fact, from the 
Golden Horn one would only see the tops of the towers among the 
trees. The date of the building of the Topkapi can be roughly given 
as the middle of the fifteenth century. The gate figures in all the 
early maps, where it appears as a very simple structure piercing the 
walls without any towers or other embellishments. It would seem 
to be the gate referred to by Pierre Gilles (1550) as the one standing 
"to the North of the Seraglio, towards the Bay."' 

» Dr Miller {Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 144) is surely mistaken when she imagines 
Gilles to be describing the Topkapi at pp. 39-40 of his Antiquities of Constantinople (London, 



To the north-west it was guarded by the Church of St Demetrius, 
another military saint, and was therefore sometimes styled by the 
Greeks, after the Turkish Conquest, the Gate of St Demetrius.^ 
Being on the eastern shore of the city, it was also called the Eastern 
Gate, while in several of the Italian maps it appears as the Porta 
de isole, because it looked towards the Princes' Islands. From the 
seventeenth century onward it was flanked by two round towers 
with conical tops, and thus closely resembled the Ortakapi, or Central 
Gate, leading into the Second Court of the SeragHo (see p. 97). In 
Grelot's time (1680) it had a portico in front right doAvn to the 
water's edge, as can just be seen in his excellent engraving reproduced 
opposite p. 54. His description is worth giving. After describing in 
some detail the " great number of Cannons ready charg'd, and lying 
levell with the water," he continues : 

In the midst of these great Guns stands one of the four Gates of the 
Serraglio, that is to say, the Gate which belongs to the Serraglio, call'd 
Bostangi Capi. It is flank'd with two great round Towers, cover'd each 
with its proper Kiosc, shadowed with two great Cypress Trees, that 
grow without the Serraglio by the Sea side. At the foot of these Towers 
stand two Bostangi Centinels, who are the Capigi's or Guards of the 
Gate ; so that nothing can be carry'd in or our, without their permis- 
sion, who do not grant it easily, unless it be to the Officers of the Serra- 
glio : Besides, it is through this Gate that the Sultanesses pass, when the 
Grand Signer carries them forth to accompany him in his pastimes 
upon the Canal of the Black Sea, which he frequently does ; or when 
they go to the Serraglio at Scutari which stands direcdy overagainst 
this Gate.^ 

Thus at one time the gate was known as the Bostanji Kapi, or 
Gate of the Gardeners. This is not at all surprising, as the bostanji , 
to the number of about 400, were employed in all kinds of manual 

1729) when he says: " The second [gate] stands upon the Ridge of a Hill: 'Tis very large, 
has a Porch with an arch'd Roof before it, is gilded, and adom'd in a surprising manner 
with Persian Paintings, supported with Pillars of Ophitick Marble, and looks into the 
Bospoms." This sounds more like the Marmor Kiosk, next the Topkapi. It might well 
give the impression of an elaborate gate, especially as several gates, like the Imperial Gate, 
had considerable-sized rooms built over them. 

' See Alexander van Milhngen, Byzantine Constantinople (London, 1899), p. 249. 

* Relation nouvelle d'un voyage de Constantinople (Paris, 1680). This is from p. 73 of the 
1683 English translation, and from p. 86 of the French 1680 edition, where we are told 
further that the guards were " bostangis ou jardiniers." 



labour on the shores of the Marmora, as well as merely gardening. 
Their chief, the Bostanji-bashi, was a highly important personage, 
his powers were considerable, and his favour was greatly sought 
after. The hostanji were all ajem-oghlans, foreign and untrained youths, 
to a large extent recruits for the corps of janissaries. Their employ- 
ment as guards, gardeners, rowers, wood-cutters, kitchen men, etc., 
was merely part of the training to strengthen their bodies for their 
future hfe in the army, and to make them ejfficient in some trade 
useful in time of war. When at its height the corps formed the fmest 
army in the world, and was, moreover, the first standing army known 
in Europe since Roman times. By the time of Suleiman they num- 
bered some 40,000, but the strictness of the order soon became 
relaxed, and with the permission of marriage and the acceptance of 
their sons into the ranks, mutiny, extortion, and other excesses led 
to an appalling abuse of power not to be crushed until Mahmud II 
abolished the corps by a wholesale massacre. Of all this more in 
another chapter. But revenons a nos moutons. 

In front of the Cannon Gate two Imperial caiques were always 
moored, in which the hostanji would act as rowers to convey the 
Sultan up the Bosphorus, to the Princes' Islands, or on any other 
pleasure trip he might wish to enjoy. Immediately next the Cannon 
Gate on the Golden Horn side was the Marble Kiosk, built, according 
to Gurlitt, in 15 18 by the Defterdar Abd es-Selam. Although the 
date is not defmite, we can regard this kiosk as the earhest built 
by the Turks on SeragHo Point for ceremonial purposes. In Melling's 
drawing' it appears as a rectangular building raised on arches or 
pillars, with two rows of windows and a fairly flat roof without a 
cupola or other decoration. In the text it is described as being sup- 
ported by twelve columns of verd-antique. 

This is very like another description given by Sieur du Loir, who, 
without mentioning any names, says : 

There is also on the sea-board one of those pavilions which the Turks 
call Kiosks, supported by twelve beautiful marble columns, and en- 
riched with a magnificent ceihng [Lambris, which can mean a flat or 
vaulted ceiling, as well as panelling or dado] painted in the Persian 

' Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople (Paris, 1819), No. 24 in the volume of text. No. 9 
in the volume of plates. 




Style, where the Grand Seigneur comes at times to take the air and 
enjoy the view of the harbour.^ 

I have been unable to discover the date of its destruction, but it still 
appears in 1840 maps of Constantinople. It probably underwent 
considerable alterations when the Summer Palace was built in 1709- 
1809. As a fire entirely destroyed the whole Palace in 1862-63 ^^^ 
the railway was built eight years later, we can conclude that anything 
left by the one was entirely eradicated by the other. 

A short way round the Point on the Marmora side was a kiosk 
built for the use of the Bostanji-bashi. In Grelot's drawing of it ^ — 
i.e., in his other engraving, of the Marmora side, not that reproduced 
in the present work — it presents an uneven fa9ade, being broken 
in the centre by a square tower similar to the famous SeragHo tower, 
only much smaller. The chief rooms were on the first floor, there 
being two windows each side of the tower. All this low-lying part of 
SeragHo Point underwent a great change when in 1709 Ahmed III 
decided to build a summer palace here. Being so near the Cannon 
Gate, it was most confusingly called the Top Capu Sarayi (see p. 17). 
It was continued by Mahmud I (1730-54), after which time it was 
Httle used. It was, however, renovated and added to by Abd ul- 
Hamid I (1774-89), and during the reign of SeHm III (1789-1807) 
Antoine Melling made several further additions. We can therefore 
accept his plan of it as the most correct in existence. 

The best account of the Summer Palace is undoubtedly that by 
F. C. Pouqueville,^ who visited it under the expert guidance of the 
Austrian Head Gardener and M. MeUing himself. With the latter's 
plan before us it is easy to follow the description of Pouqueville, 
from which I herewith give selections. Being admitted by the Mill 
Gate (or Degirmen Kapi, to which I shall refer again shortly), he 
made his way into the New Garden, laid out on the Schonbrunn 
pattern by Jacob Ensle,the gardener, or "Jaques," as Pouqueville calls 
him. The party proceeded along the shore side to the New Kiosk, 

' Voyage (Paris, 1654), p. 43. 

* Relation nouvelle, pp. 71-72 of the English edition. 

' Travels in the Morea, Albania, and other Parts of the Ottoman Empire, translated from 
the French (of 1805) by Anne Plumptre (London, 1813), pp. 324-335. For a long;jr^m 
of the original edition see Boucher de la Richarderie, Biblioth^que universelle des voyages 
(Paris, 1808), tome ii, pp. 242-267. 



the three steps in semicircular form which lead to it making a pro- 
jection on the garden side. 

Instead of a door, a large painted canvass hanging from the roof Hke 
a curtain closes the entrance of the Kiosque, giving it in this part the 
appearance of a tent. We put it aside to enter, and I was most agree- 
ably surprised at the elegance of the interior. It is of an elliptical form, 
the largest diameter being thirty-six feet ; this runs from the curtain to 
the windows, which look upon the sea. The painting round the sides 
was executed by Europeans; it represents a colonnade, the cornices 
being richly painted, and gilt with great taste ; in the intervals between 
the columns are glasses, and some paintings of flowers which seemed 
well preserved. . . . The Sultan's sofa was placed on the side next the 
sea, but had nothing remarkable in it; and there was a fountain of 
crystal, from which flowed very fine clear water, destined for the 

The floor was covered with painted cloth, a new fashion in the 
Seraglio, according to Melling. They then traversed a terrace about 
fifty feet long and twelve feet broad, ending in a bastion commanding 
a fme view of the port as well as the harem. A staircase in the garden 
led to a subterranean kiosk under the New Kiosk, and also connected 
with little iron gates by which a hasty escape could be made to the 
Marmora. Towards the north end of the garden was the Golden 
Gate, leading by a gentle descent to the harem gate on the right, and 
on the left to an iron gate which led to a raised garden terrace looking 
down on the larger garden below — i.e., via the "Montee douce" in 
Melling's plan. At the end of this terrace was situated a gallery 
called "Hassan Pasha's Kiosk": 

It is entirely open to the east, both in its length and height. The 
ceihng is remarkable by the load of gilding, and by glasses which are 
fixed into it in such a way that the surrounding objects are reflected 
on every side. 

It was, however, neglected, and the swallows had built their nests 
in the cornices. 

After a first disappointment PouqueviUe got into the harem. When 
he had entered by the harem gate 

the enormous size of the key and the noise made by the gate grating 
upon its hinges, united with the sohtude and sacredness of the place, 



seemed at first to strike us all with a sort of awe.^ Twelve feet away 
was a second gate — of wood, and between the two gates was the apart- 
ment of the female slaves on the first floor ["Log. des Odahsques" in 
the plan]. It is a vast gallery three hundred feet in length, forty-five in 
breadth, and twenty in height, with a range of windows on each side, 
and divided down the whole length by a double row of closets, painted 
some red, some blue, some white, forming two distinct ranges one 
above the other, and in these the slaves keep whatever property they 
have. Near the windows are Httle spaces surrounded with a balustrade 
three feet high, and furnished with sofas on which the Odahscas sleep, 
in parties of fifteen each. 

Provision was made for 300 women in all. A staircase at the end 
of the gallery and closed by folding trapdoors led to the courtyard 
below. The kitchens were also in this part of the harem. The court- 
yard stretched in a north-easterly direction, with a colonnade facing 
the sea, while the sultanas' pavilions were on the opposite side. At the 
farther end of the court were the apartments of the Kislar Agha and 
the black eunuchs under his control. There was an inner courtyard 
connecting at its farthest point with the Marmor Kiosk and the 
Cannon Gate. It gave entrance to the rooms of the First Kadin and 
the Sultan VaHde; "the cornices were loaded with gilding and the 
walls with glasses," but most of the furniture had been removed to 
the new palace of Beshiktash, on the Lower Bosphorus. The beauty 
of the baths made a great impression on Pouqueville. They appear 
to have resembled those I shall describe in the winter harem in a later 

I have given considerable space to the Summer Palace because very 
few accounts exist,^ and that by Pouqueville should be read with 
Melling's plan as a guide, and this I have specially reproduced in its 
original scale. Besides which the history of the Seraglio would be 
incomplete without some account of the Summer Palace. 

' I fully appreciate his feelings, and experienced diem myself after ascending the worn 
wooden stairs in the har^tn proper and standing in sUence gazing at the heavily barred 
bedroom of the har^m girls, a spot so sacred and teeming with such romance that when 
I found my voice it was but a whisper. 

* Cf. that by E. D. Clarke, the mineralogist and travelling tutor, in Travels in Various 
Countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa (London, 1812), Part II, section i, pp. 13-28. See 
also J. von Hammer, Constantinopolis, I, pp. 306-321, with conventional plan facing p. 308 ; 
C. Gurhtt, "Der Serai in Konstantinopel" [Beitrdge zur Kenntniss des Orients (1915), xii, 
pp. 31-63). 

E 65 


We must now return to the sea-wall and continue our inspection 
of the gates and kiosks. I shall also give some description of the 
recently discovered remains of the Mangana, or Imperial arsenal 

As we have already seen, Pouqueville entered the Summer Palace 
through the Degirmen Kapi, about 300 yards south of it. It is, then, 
this gate which I shall now describe. It is a small, unpretentious one 
dating from Byzantine times, but both its original Greek name and 
the purpose of its erection are unknown. In Turkish times it served 
a hospital built against the walls for the staff of the Seraglio, as well 
as a small mosque near by. Both remain to-day, but are in a sad 
state of ruin, owing to the fact that the railway line has quite cut 
them off from the rest of the acropohs buildings. Here also was the 
Imperial mill and bakery, which remained in active use for members 
of the Seraglio until in 1616 Ahmed I built the one in the First 
Court, which appears in Melling's interesting drawing reproduced 
opposite p. 86 of the present work. This gate, then, has been called 
both Hastalar Kapi (also written Hastalar Capoussou, Khastalar Qapusi, 
etc.), or Hospital Gate, and Degirmen Kapi {Deyirman Qapu, De'irmen 
Kapoussi, etc.), or Gate of the Mill. In order to obtain a satisfactory 
impression of this stretch of the walls, with the Hospital Gate and 
m.osque as a central point, it is necessary not only to view it from the 
terrace of the Seragho below the Goths' Column, but also to inspect 
it from the sea side in a small boat, which can easily be hired at the 
New Bridge. 

Behind the Hastalar Kapi on the land side, in the low-lying space 
between the walls and the base of the acropohs, was once the 
Kynegion, the amphitheatre built by Septimius Severus at the end 
of the second century, and used chiefly for the exhibition of wild 
beasts, but under later emperors as a place of execution. Thus, with 
the Theatron Minor, the Byzantine acropolis had two theatres built 
against its steep eastern slopes, just as the Athenian acropolis had the 
Theatre of Dionysos and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus built against 
its southern slopes. 

To-day the site of the Kynegion is an allotment, bounded on the 
seaward side by the railway line. 

The next gate, which hes a little farther south, is, in its present form 



at any rate, a Turkish erection. It seems, however, quite possible 
that it replaced a Byzantine gate, especially when we consider that 
we are now approaching the district of the Mangana, or mihtary 
arsenal, built by Constantine. Not a trace of it remains to-day, and 
until quite recently its site was Httle more than a matter of con- 
jecture. But owing to certain excavations carried out in 1921-22 
we are able to place it somewhere very close to this Turkish gate, 
known by the name of Demir Kapi, the Iron Gate, which naturally 
must not be confused with the land gate of the same name that gave 
entrance to the Seragho gardens on the west. In his deservedly 
famous work Byzantine Constantinople Alexander van Millingen says 
that the Mangana must have stood between the Gate of St Barbara 
and the Hospital Gate. The sole reason he can give is that Nicetas 
Chroniates (Acominatus), the Byzantine pohtician and chronicler, 
says that it faced the rocky islet off the opposite Scutari shore on 
which to-day is Leander's Tower. Such deduction is of little value, 
as we have no idea what Nicetas meant by the expression "faced." 
It depends on how you chance to be standing and looking. Leander's 
Tower is not exactly opposite even the extreme point of the Seragho 
shore ; still less is it opposite the gates farther to the south. But, on 
the other hand, it is clearly visible from any point on the adjacent 
coast as far as the modem hghthouse, so that any gate or building in 
the district could be said to "face" the tower, merely because as one 
looked out towards the Bosphorus this was the one point that stood 
out as a landmark. Nicetas tells us further that (in the twelfth century) 
Manuel Comnenus built two towers, one on the rock and the other 
on the mainland opposite, " very close to the Monastery of Mangana." 
The towers were joined by a chain as a protection to the Bosphorus. 
The acropolis tower exists to-day close to the Demir Kapi, while 
the site of the monastery, known as St George of the Mangana, was 
discovered in 192 1 a little farther south, just on the landward side 
of the modern railway. A series of basements and a large cistern 
surmounted by sixteen cupolas supported by great pillars of masonry 
were revealed. Bird designs in an adjoining vaulted roof proclaim 
the work of Byzantine masons. The church, together with a convent 
at the southern end, was built by Constantine IX Monomacus (1042- 
1054), and received its name from its proximity to the Mangana. 



Immediately to the south of the monastery stood the Palace of the 
Mangana, of which the foundations were discovered in 1921. They 
proved to be elaborate, consisting of a large central cistern with 
thirty cupolas supported by a double row of marble and granite 
pillars. The unusual depth of these foundations appears to have been 
necessary to ensure a view of the coast over the high sea-walls. The 
palace was built by Basil I (867-886) and destroyed by Isaac II 
Angelus at the end of the twelfth century to obtain material for his 
own buildings. 

But where was the Mangana itself? Having now fixed the sites of 
the Mangana Tower, Monastery, and Palace, we can surely deter- 
mine that of the Mangana by studying the map. The only space 
sufficiently large for an Imperial military arsenal, and fitting in with 
all recent discoveries, is that lying between the tower and the 
monastery; and there (with Professor Mamboury) we must place 
it without hesitation. This also helps to explain the presence of 
several small closed-up Byzantine gates in the sea-wall near the 
Demir Kapi. 

As we continue along the walls a ruinous facade will soon be 
noticed. It consists of a door with a window above it and a niche 
each side. This is all that remains of the church of St Saviour, built 
by Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118). Immediately to the south are 
the ruins of the kiosk built by Sinan Pasha, the Grand Vizir of 
Murad III, in 1582. To Europeans it was always known as the Kiosk of 
Pearls [Injili Kd§ku).^ The ruins consist of a substructure built against 
the exterior of the walls and forming several arcades. Through 
these buttresses the water of a holy spring (^ Ay laa-fia) within the city 
was conducted to the outer side of the walls, and thus rendered 
accessible to the Christians of the Greek Orthodox Church, who 
sought the benefit of its healing virtues. This was the holy spring of 
the church of St Saviour, celebrated as a fountain of health long 
before the Turkish conquest.^ Many writers ^ have described the 

' A good engraving of the Kiosk of Pearls appears in Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, 
Voyage pittoresque de la Grke (Paris, 1 782-1 822), vol. ii, Plate 72. Cf. also those of Melling, 
Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople (No. 7 in the text), and A. L. Castellan, Lettres sur la 
Moree, I'Hellespont, et Constantinople (second edition, Paris, 1820), vol. ii, Plate 40. 

* Van Millingen, Byzantine Constantinople, p. 253. 

' Gilles, Antiquities of Constantinople, p. 40; Th^venot, Travels into the Levant (London, 



curious scenes witnessed on the festival of Transfiguration. The 
Sultan himself would sometimes view them from a window in the 
kiosk, watching the sick being buried up to the neck in the sand as a 
method of cure. To the south of the kiosk, which was destroyed 
by the railway in 1871, the wall has fallen down by the side of a 
small gate, the name of which is unknown ; inside it is the entrance 
to a vast basement which constituted the interior passage of this 
section of the walls. At low tide a walk along the shore will reveal 
six gates which belonged to numerous convents, the most important 
being those of St Lazarus and St Mary Hodighitria. A small Turkish 
fountain built in the reign of Ahmed I bars further progress in this 
direction.' It was in the neighbourhood of St Lazarus that the Topi, 
remains of a tier of seats (possibly one of the theatres of Septimius 
Severus), was found. The polo-ground (Tzycanisterion) of the 
Great Palace was also in the vicinity, and marked the eastern Hmits 
of Constantine's palace. Finally, the famous baths of Arcadius and 
a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael stood near the Topi. 
Thus the whole area is an architectural pahmpsest indeed ! 

Between the Injili Kd§ku and the outer walls of the Second Court 
of the Seragho it will be noticed in MeUing's plan that there is a 
large rectangular space marked as " Place et Batiment du Dgirid." 
This was the playing-field for the game o£jertd, or wooden javelin- 
throwing, and stood near the site of the Nea, or New Church of 
Basil the Macedonian. Melling gives an engraving of the game in 
play, not actually in this particular field, but the one at the archery 
ground (Ok-meidan) near the Sweet Waters of Europe {Kiat Khanet), 
at the far end of the Golden Hom.^ From this, and other drawings 
of the period,^ it will be seen that the javelins resemble in size and 
shape ordinary wooden broom-handles, about three feet eight inches 

1687), p. 23 ; Grelot, Relation nouvelk, p. 71 of the English edition; and in more recent 
times von Hammer, Constantinopolis, I, p. 236 et seq., and Constantius, Ancient and Modem 
Constantinople (i868), p. 26. 

' E. Mamboury, Tourists* Guide to Constantinople (Constantinople, 1924), p. 462. See 
also van Millingen, Byzantine Constantinople, pp. 256-257. 

2 Voyaqe pittoresque de Constantinople, No. 24 in the volume of text, No. 17 in the 
volume of plates. 

3 See, for example, Choiseul-Gouffier, Voyage pittoresque de la Grece, vol. i, Plate no, 
and text pp. 170-171 ; d'Ohsson, Tableau general de Vempire Ottoman (3 vols., Paris, 1787- 
1820), the double plate 171, between pp. 332 and 333 of vol. iii. 



ill length. With continual practice they could be hurled by a rider 
(every one was mounted) with perfect aim at the head of the 
opponent, often causing considerable bodily harm, and sometimes 
even death. As the drawings show, enormous interest was taken in 
important matches, and numerous elaborate tents were pitched round 
the field, and crowds of janissaries and others were in attendance. 
Grooms, servants, doctors, swelled the throng, and a band of some 
twenty performers added to the general liveliness. Dr Miller gives 
us some useful information about the game.^ It is described as a 
mock battle in which mounted horsemen threw wooden darts at 
each other. It was a prominent feature of Royal entertainment in 
the Hippodrome at least as early as the second half of the sixteenth 
century, but achieved its greatest popularity during 1650-1700. It 
was finally abohshed by Mahmud II, together with the corps of 
janissaries, in 1826. A point of considerable interest, not mentioned 
by Dr Miller, is the connexion that appears to have existed between 
the Turkish naming of the rival parties in the game ofjertd and that 
employed in the time of Justinian in the old Byzantine hippodrome. 
In those days the rival parties were known respectively as the Blues 
and the Greens, and the emperors were afFihated to one or the other. 

The Turks took their party names from vegetables — bahmia, a 
green pulpy pod, and lahana, a cabbage — the opposing teams being 
known as Bahmiaji and Lahanaji. The Sultans also sided with one or 
the other. Thus Mahmud II belonged to the former, while Selim III 
was a supporter of the cabbage men.^ For the thrilling history, with 
all its political significance, of the Blues and Greens I may refer 
readers to Procopius.^ 

The Kiosk of Pearls lies almost exactly half-way between the 
Cannon Gate and the Fish-house Gate, which was situated just inside 
the Seragho enclosure, where the land and sea gates meet. As its 
name at once implies, the Fish-house Gate, or Balik Hane Kapi, 
was so called because it led to the quarters of the fishermen in the 
service of the Seraglio, whose sheds were built here close to the sea. 

' MacdonaU Presentation Volume, pp. 305-324. See also "William Harbome, Turkey, 
Public Records Office, State Papers, Foreign, vol. i, entry July 25, 1582, quoted by Dr 

* C. White, Three Years in Constantinople (London, 1845), vol. i, p. 301. 

3 Especially to the fine translation by H. B. Dewing issued (1935) in the Loeb Classics. 



In R. Walsh's Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of 
Asia Minor ' there is an illustration by T. Allom of the Balik Hane, 
which shows clearly the fish-stage erected for arresting the shoals of 
fish. In the foreground of the picture is a boat into which some of 
the fishermen have dragged, not their nets, but a dead body, this 
being the spot from which State criminals were thrown. Why the 
Royal fishing area should be chosen just here is hard to imagine! 
Quoting from an article by Abd ur-Rahman Shirif Efendi,^ Dr 
Miller relates an interesting custom connected with the gate. It was, 
she says,^ to this gate that a deposed Vizir, or Chief Black Eunuch, 
was secretly conducted immediately following his degradation. In 
the event of a sentence of death there was the very curious practice 
of a race between the Head Gardener of the Palace, who was also 
the Chief Executioner, and the condemned — hterally a race of Hfe 
and death. If the Vizir succeeded in arriving at the Fish-house 
Gate first he was accorded sanctuary within the gate, and the sentence 
commuted to exile. The last to escape death in this manner was the 
Grand Vizir Haji Salih Pasha in 1822-23. If, on the other hand, the 
deposed official found the Head Gardener awaiting him upon his 
arrival at the gate he was then and there summarily executed and his 
body cast into the sea. 

The Balik Hane Kapi has been identified by Constantius* with 
the Postern of Michael the Protovestarius, by which Constantine 
Ducas entered in 913 on his attempt to usurp the throne. Consider- 
able doubt, however, must be entertained before that assumption 
can be accepted. ^ 

A short way south, and at a distance from outside the land-wall 
corresponding to that of the Balik Hane Kapi from inside the wall, 
was the Akhor (also spelled Achour, Ahour, Ahir, etc.) Kapi, or Gate of 
the Stables. Its ancient name is unknown, but as the marble stables 
erected by Michael III (842-867) were in the vicinity it is at least 
possible that there was a stable gate here in Byzantine days. The 
Sultan's mews lay a short distance inland, and are clearly shown in 

' London, 1839 (?), p. 40. 

* No. V in the Tarikhi Osmani Enjumeni Mejmunsi. 
3 Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 145 and p. 250 n. 31. 

* Ancient and Modern Constantinople, p. 23. 

* Van Millingen, Byzantine Constantinople, pp. 260-261. 



Melling's plan. They were known as the Buyiik Akhor, or Great 
Stables, in contradistinction to the Privy Stables, in the Second Court 
of the Seragho. The number of horses kept here varied between 2000 
and 4000. They belonged chiefly to members of the Palace School. 

Passing on up the hill, we come to the Gulhane Kapi (to which 
reference has already been made at p. 59), and, continuing along the 
outside of the wall past seven more towers, we fmally arrive on the 
summit at the Imperial Gate, or Bab-i-Humayun. I shall give a short 
description of this gate when discussing the First Court in the next 

We continue along the walls in a northerly direction, and the main 
gate leading into the Seraglio gardens soon appears. As already 
mentioned, it is called the Gate of the Cool Fountain, or Fountain 
of Cold Water — in modem Turkish Soguk (^e§me Kapi, and formerly 
written Sughuq (or Souk) Chesmeh Kapusi (or Kapou). It was built 
in the middle of the seventeenth century by Ibrahim, and repaired 
during the reign of Abd ul-Hamid II. It has no particular architec- 
tural importance, and has been very considerably altered in course 
of time. On entering and turning sharply to the left we fmd a slope 
which leads up to the Alai, or Procession, Kiosk. The proximity of 
this building to the Gate of the Cool Fountain has given it the alter- 
native name the Procession Gate. 

The Alai Kiosk is built in the most westerly angle of the Seraglio 
wall, which at this point turns east towards the Golden Horn almost 
at right angles. I have been unable to discover the date of the original 
kiosk built on this site, but there appears to have been one here from 
early in the sixteenth century similar in size and general construction 
to the present one, but round instead of polygonal. From inside the 
kiosk there is an excellent view in all directions, while a stone thrown 
directly ahead would land in the grounds of the Grand Vizir's 
Palace — the Subhme Porte as it was at one time. It is indeed a 
gazebo in its true meaning, and it would be hard to imagine a better 
place for viewing passing processions. To-day it is put to many 
practical uses, and when last I visited it an exhibition of modem 
pictures covered its walls. Many tales are told of the purposes to 
which it was put in bygone days. Intended primarily as a meeting- 
place for the Sultan and his cortege prior to the weekly visit to the 



mosque on Fridays, it was used by Murad IV as a vantage point 
from which to practise his prowess with the arquebus on the passers- 
by. When popular indignation began to express itself on this par- 
ticular pastime of the Sultan the Royal ' bag ' was limited to ten heads 
per diem ! 

The kiosk also served for pubhc audiences in emergencies, when 
the petitioners would gather in the street below, each keeping at a 
safe distance from the other. Thus in the revolt of the janissaries in 
1655 the Sultan was forced to appear at the window of the Alai 
Kiosk to hear the complaints of the soldiers, and in order to save his 
own head cast headlong into the street the strangled bodies of the 
Chief Black and White Eunuchs, while on the following day the 
bodies of nearly all the other principal ministers were handed to 
the janissaries as a peace offering by the terrified Sultan. 

Dr Miller would credit the existence of another, and earlier, Alai 
Kiosk " on the shore of the Golden Horn near the angle of the land 
and sea walls."' Her evidence seems to me to be based on misunder- 
standings of her references, and possibly, with Grelot (see below), 
the muddhng up of alai with yali, the point being that the very 
spot she selects for the earher Alai Kiosk is that occupied in all maps 
and diagrams by the Yah, or Shore, Kiosk. Let us take the words 
themselves first. The modem Turkish for 'procession' is alay. 
Other spellings of the word are alaj, alai, aylai, aylay. 

Now in the case of yali there is greater variation. The modern 
Turkish is yali. Other forms are ialy, iali, jaly, yalli, ialai, while 
Melling uses the form "Yaly" in his text and "lali" in his plan. It 
will thus be seen how alike the two words have at times become. In 
a note on the passage in question Dr Miller remarks, with apparent 
surprise, that in Melling's plan the Procession Kiosk has disappeared 
and only the Yah Kiosk is shown. I maintain that this latter was the 
only kiosk built there. She also quotes Grelot, Hill, Du Loir, and 
ChishuU, but not one of these writers mentions an Alai Kiosk in 
his text. Grelot marks an "Alaikiosc" in his map — an obvious 
misprint for " lalaikiosc " or some similar form of " Yali Kiosk." 
He gives only one other facing Galata: the "Sinan Kiosc." Thus 
the mistake was only in the name, not in the number of buildings. 
* Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 147. 


So too in the engravings of Choiseul-GoufFier,' d'Ohsson,^ and 
Melling.3 Another reUable writer, Comidas de Carbognano, 
enumerates all the kiosks on the SeragHo promontory, but gives 
only two, Sinan and Yah, as facing Galata. But when dealing with 
the 'Alaj,' as he spells it, he is very clear and decisive: 

It forms a tower on a partition wall of the SeragHo, about lOO paces 
distant from the Porte, whence the Grand Signer watches quite alone 
the pubHc processions and cavalcades. 

Nothing could be clearer or more exact, for the Porte, as the Imperial 
Gate was called, was only a few miuutes' walk up the hill. If, how- 
ever, by " the Porte " he means the Grand Vizir's Palace across the road, 
also known as the Sublime Porte, then again the distance given woidd 
be satisfactory, for anyone leaving the Alai Kiosk would have to 
approach the Palace via the Gate of the Cool Fountain. I shall return 
to the Yah Kiosk when we come to it in the course of our circum- 
ambidation of the walls. After leaving the Alai Kiosk the walls 
continue due east towards the Golden Horn. Before the Iron Gate is 
reached there are two small postern gates that deserve brief mention. 
The first of these was named after the famous Grand Vizir SokoUi, 
and the other one is known as the Gate of Sultan Suleiman. This 
latter was used by Ibrahim, Grand Vizir to Suleiman for thirteen 
years, when calling on the Sultan. He was strangled by the orders of 

The Iron Gate, or Demir Kapi, a square massive structure with 
crenelated top, soon appears at the end of the road. Beyond this gate 
the wall is destroyed, and we can go no farther, since a modern wall 
has been built across our path hiding sheds and yards connected with 
the railway. The Iron Gate was also known as the Bostanji Kapi, or 
Gate of the Gardeners, for just the same reason that the Cannon Gate 
bore the alternative name — because it led to the Seraglio Garden and 
was chiefly used by the bostanji. It was also used by the ambassadors 
visiting the Sultan. Coming by boat from Pera, they usually passed 
through it and continued with their cortege to the Imperial Gate, and 
so to the Ortakapi, leading to the Second Court of the SeragHo. 

• Voyage pittoresque de la Grhce, Plate 77. » Tableau general, vol. iii, Plate 172. 

3 Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople, No. 29 in the volume of text, No. 9 in the volume 
of plates. 



At the angle where the land- and sea-walls met was situated the 
Yali Kd§ku Kapi, which is on, or near, the site of the Byzantine Gate 
of Eugenius, the church of St Paul, and the tower of Eugenius. It 
led direct to the seaboard where stood the Yali Kd§ku itself. Accord- 
ing to engravings and descriptions that have come down to us, it 
was a low-built, tent-like, octagonal building of white marble 
supported by many (some accounts say fifty) marble columns with 
steps leading down to the water's edge. There appear to be some 
differences of opinion as to the date of its foundation. The building 
has been attributed to Sinan Pasha (Grand Vizir of Murad III), who, 
as we have noted, built the Kiosk of Pearls, and its date fixed as 1589. 
On the other hand, it has been said to date back to the reign of 
Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66). We can, at any rate, regard 
it as a sixteenth-century structure erected as a ceremonial kiosk for 
the Sultan from which to review the fleet, give audience to his 
admirals, and for similar functions. 

Writing on his voyage of 1610, George Sandys describes the Yali 
Kiosk briefly as 

a sumptuous Summer-house; having a private passage made for the 
time of waxed linnen, from his SerragUo : where he often solaceth him- 
selfe, with the various objects of the haven : and from thence takes 
Barge to passe unto the delightful! places of the adjoyning Asia.^ 

In the drawing at the opposite page Sandys shows the kiosk to be 
hexagonal in shape with a cupola at the apex. There are eleven large 
arches and rows of steps only a few feet from the water. There is no 
sign of the Sinan Agha IGosk, which should have been here at this 
time. A fuller account of the Yali Kiosk is to be found in a diary of 
Antoine Galland,^ o{ Arabian Nights fame, extracts from which have 
been given by Dr Miller. ^ Almost contemporary is Grelot's account, 
which reads as foUows : 

Yet all these Embellishments in the Sultannesses Kiosc [i.e., the Sinan 
Agha, for which see later] are nothing in comparison to the Great HaU 
or Room in the other Kiosc [the Yali]. There is nothing in the World 

' A Relation of a Journey begun An: Dom: 1610 (London, 1615), p. 33. 
^ Journal pendant son sejour h Constantinople (1672-1673), edit. Charles Schefer {2 vols., 
Paris, 1881). See vol. i, pp. 186-188. 
3 Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 148. 



that can be thought to be more noble and magnificent ; whether you 
look upon the Marble, the Pillars, the Artificial Water- Works, and 
stately Tapestries, the Galleries round about it, the charming Prospect 
which appears on every side, or the costly gilded Fretwork of the 
Ceiling, which would almost raise a mans thoughts to beheve it some- 
thing of Enchantment.* 

He tried in vain to " take a draught of it." 

A little more than a hundred years later it was described by de 
Carbognano (1794) : 

At a Httle distance from the preceding one [the Sinan Agha] is the 
fifth Kiosk built in the form of a tent and ornamented on all sides with 
many columns, as well as in the apex of a beautiful dome. Its erection 
is likewise attributed to the same Sohman I. The Sultan goes unaccom- 
panied to the Kiosk on the first day of Bairam and of Kurhan Bairam ; ^ 
on the setting out or returning of the squadron of the Captain Pasha ; ^ 
and on the birth of Princes or Princesses of royal blood, especially when 
there are celebrations at night with fireworks at sea,'^ 

Melling gives a similar description, ^ and his illustration resembles 
those of Sandys and Grelot. According to Constantius^ it was 
destroyed in 1861. 

Quite close to the Yali was the Kiosk of Sinan Agha, built in the 
sixteenth century chiefly as a summer-house for the Sultanas from 
which to view the passing shipping in the Golden Horn and up the 

Once more we can turn to Grelot: 

The first of these Kioscs was for the Women, of which he had a good 
Number. It is somewhat higher rais'd than the other, and the passage 
to it from the Seraglio is such as will not admit the persons passing to 
and fro to be seen. It is built from Arches all in Length, consisting of 
three fair Chambers, every one adorn'd with several gilded Alcoves 
fumish'd with their Sopha's or low Couches, having their Minders, or 

' Relation nouvelle, p. 74 of the English edition. 

* The two great festivals, the first being celebrated at the completion of the fasting 
month Ramadan, the second on the loth of the last month (^Dhu-l-hijja) with sacrifices 
to commemorate the ransom of Ishmael with a ram. 

' This is the scene represented in d'Ohsson, Tableau general, Plate 71. 

♦ Descrizione topografica dello stato presente di Constantinopoli (Bassano, 1794), p. 25. 
» Voyage pittoresque de Constantinople, in the text to Plate 9. 

' Ancient and Modem Constantinople, p. 11. 



Mattresses and Cushions belonging to them, spread with rich Cover- 
lets of painted Linnen and Cloth of Tissue. These Sopha's or Beds are 
placed near the Windows, wherein are Lattices, through which the 
Women may see and not be seen; for should they be seen, it might 
be as much prejudicial to the party disco ver'd, as to him that made 
the discovery.^ 

Comidas de Carbognano tells us it is built on eight arches and 
adorned with a cupola. 

I can find no information as to its destruction. Quite close were 
the Seraglio boathouses, containing many Royal caiques and larger 
boats richly ornamented in gold and elaborate carvings. 

Between the Sinan Agha Kiosk and the boathouses was another 
kiosk, not at the water's edge, but built high on the Seraglio wall, 
which at this point was a considerable way inland. It was known as 
the Kiosk of the Basket-makers (Sepetjiler Kd§kii — the " Dgebedgiler- 
Kieuchk" of Melling's plan), and was used mainly as a means of 
signalling to the fleet. It was enlarged by Sultan Ibrahim in 1643 » ^^'^ 
appears on Stanford's map in Murray's guide ^ as late as 1907, but in 
1895 Grosvenor described it as "blackened and indescribably dirty, 
affording hardly a hint of its former daintiness and importance." ^ 

The name of the kiosk calls for some explanation. The word 
sepet means a basket, and is used to denote the baskets seen in grocery, 
fruit, and druggist shops for storing the merchandise. It also refers 
to baskets used by workmen for carrying tools and other small 
articles. They are shaped like our rush game baskets, and are made 
of split palm or broad flag leaves. Thus they differed from the 
zemhil, which were light baskets with a cover and handle used for 
indoor domestic purposes, and still more from the kUgiik sela, or 
little baskets used in harems for preserving rice, coffee, sugar, tobacco, 
cotton, etc. Yet there is no reason to believe that all these varieties 
were not made by the basket-makers whose former pitch was just 
below the wall kiosk that was to receive its name for the following 
reason. It is said that the Sultan Ibrahim diverted himself with basket- 
making, and consequently protected and granted various privileges 

' Relation nouvelle, p. 74 of the English edition. 

* Handbook for Travellers in Constantinople, Brusa, and the Troad. 

^ Constantinople, p. 711. 



to the basket-makers' corporation. This called forth corresponding 
gratitude on their part; so when in 1643 the Sultan rebuilt the kiosk 
the basket-makers humbly petitioned to be allowed to defray a 
portion of the expense. It was this fact that led to its bearing their 

The only other item to mention before we reach the Cannon Gate 
once again is the small Wood Gate {Odun Kapi), just near the north- 
east end of the boathouses. As its name imphes, it was used for the 
enormous supply of wood needed in the SeragHo for the baths, 
kitchens, and general heating purposes. The supply came partly 
from the Forest of Belgrade, stretching as far as the Black Sea, and 
pardy from the Mediterranean. When describing the First Court we 
shall see where the wood was piled, which, according to Tavemier, 
amounted to " above 40,000 Cart-loads of wood, every Cart-load 
being as much as two oxen can draw." According to White ^ it was 
through this gate that bodies executed in the SeragHo were taken 
forth and cast into the sea. 

A small well and the battery are all that existed along the remainder 
of this coast, and so at last we arrive again at the point of the penin- 
sula, the Serai Bournou, and Cannon Gate. 

Before we consider the First Court of the Seraglio mention should 

be made of two kiosks in the Outer Palace, in no way connected 

with the walls — the ChiniU and the Gulhane Kiosks. The Chinili, or 

Tile, Kiosk is perhaps the most interesting of all the kiosks in the 

Seraglio, as, apart from its archaeological and ceramic interest, it is 

the one existing building that unquestionably dates from the time of 

Muhammad II. It is situated in the SeragHo grounds on the Golden 

Horn side, and forms part of the Museum buildings, and can best 

be reached by way of the Gate of the Cool Fountain, through the 

gates on the right, and straight up the slope. It then lies to the left 

and faces east. Continuing to the right, you reach the First Court of 

the SeragHo near the stump of the famous janissary tree. The best 

pictures ^ and plans of the kiosk are to be found in Gurlitt's great 

work, Die Baukunst Konstantinopels. Plate 12a gives a section and 

' See white. Three Years in Constantinople, vol. i, p. 289. 
* Three Years in Constantinople, vol. iii, p. 314. 

^ H. G. Dwight gives a good photograph of a beautiful wall fountain in Constantinople 
Old and New (New York, 1915), p. 357. 



plan, while 12b, 12c, and I2d give views both inside and outside. 
It will be seen after inspecting 12a that the plan of the kiosk is a 
Greek cross, and that the re-entering angles carry a dome with 
pendentives. In each of the re-entering angles there is a room sur- 
mounted by a dome, and the north arm ends with a hexagonal apse. 
Outside runs a fme portico the entire length of the building, supported 
by fourteen columns, and surmounted by a tiled architrave, having a 
stone cornice above with stelliform piercings. The front, or eastern, 
fa9ade presents a single story, but the portico is some eight feet from 
the ground, being reached by a double central flight of steps. There 
are storerooms under the portico, entrance to which is gained directly 
from the front. At the back there are two stories, each with a double 
tier of windows. 

The whole kiosk can be regarded as a unique exhibition of Turkish 
tiles of the first period, and, quite apart from its exhibits as a museum 
of ceramics, glass, etc., should be examined from that point of view 
before any other. 

The Director of the Seragho, Tahsin Chukru, made a special 
study of Turkish tiles, and referred me, in one of my conversations 
with him on the subject, to his article in the Transactions of the Oriental 
Ceramic Society.^ 1 shall have occasion later to refer to it again 
when discussing certain rooms in the harem and selamlik, but here I 
shall confme my extract and remarks to the tiles in their bearing on 
the Chinili Kiosk. 

The Turkish tile industry originated in the fifteenth century, 
reached its height of perfection during the sixteenth century, and died 
out in the first half of the eighteenth century. Constantinople and 
Brusa can illustrate the complete history from beginning to end, 
and a study and comparison of their mosques, tUrbehs, madrasehs, and 
kiosks is as interesting and instructive as it is pleasing and easy to 
accompHsh. Turkish tiles can conveniently be divided into three 
periods, the first stretching from the beginning of the fifteenth cen- 
tury to the first half of the sixteenth century. The second period 
ends early in the eighteenth century, when it began to decline. 
After this the industry died out. An effort was made in 1725 to 
revive it, and the painted tiles produced at a new factory estabHshed 

' 1934, pp. 48-61. 


at Tekfur Serai constitute the third period. They cannot compare 
with those of the preceding period. 

The ChiniH Kiosk tiles belong to the first period, the forms of 
tiles and decoration originating in Brusa at the famous Green Mosque 
Ye§il Cami and neighbouring Green Tiirbeh of Muhammad I. The 
colours are green, turquoise, and dark blue; the shapes are square, 
rectangular, hexagonal, and triangular. The tile inscriptions are of 
two kinds : those in tile mosaic and those in square tiles. The letter- 
ing in both kinds is generally in white or yellow on a dark blue 
ground, and the ornamental designs in the intervals of the inscrip- 
tions are turquoise blue, golden yellow, and green, while the borders 
also introduce white, black, and dark blue. TUes were used for both 
exterior and interior of buildings, and just as glass mosaic was used as 
an incrustation in stone, so earthenware tiles were set among stone- 
work. Panels were also made of tiles combined with pottery. 

Every variety of first-period tile is to be found in the ChiniH 
Kiosk. Tahsin Chukru thus describes them : 

First we come to the tilework inscription placed above the doorway 
of the year a.h. 877 (a.d. 1473) ; the tile panel bearing the date is in 
mosaic. On the two sides of the archway of the door the legend 
"Tevekkeltu-alaUah" ("Thy reliance on Allah") is expressed by a 
geometrical design formed of square tiles in turquoise light blue and 
white. There are star designs amongst the dark and light blue and 
white tiles decorating the surfaces above the doorway and the inscrip- 
tion. The word 'Allah' is found also amongst the flowers of the tile- 
work mosaic border obliquely enclosing the arcade. On either side of 
the facade there are similar decorations. The rooms of the kiosk are 
Hkewise decorated with the most delightful ornamentation, consisting 
of hexagonal, square, triangular, and rectangular tiles in dark and Hght 
blue and white. The other faces of the building are also decorated with 

Further examples of the first period of Turkish tiling may be seen 
at the Chekirge mosque at Brusa (near the baths to be described in a 
later chapter), the Chinili mosque at Isnik, and the mosque of the 
Conqueror, the tiirbeh of Mehemed Pasha, the mosque of Sehm and 
its tUrbehs, the madraseh of Hasseky, and the tiirbeh of Prince Mehemed, 
son of Suleiman, at Constantinople. 

Tiles of the second period will be referred to in the Harem and 



Selatnlik chapters. To conclude this present chapter there remains 
but to speak of the Giilhane Kiosk, situated on the Marmora side of 
the SeragHo, outside the southern comer of the wall of the Second 
Court near the kitchens. It has, or rather had (since it has now been 
pulled down), no pretensions to beauty, and is famous only on account 
of its being the scene of the Hatti Sherif, the great scheme of national 
reform issued in 1839 by Abd ul-Mejid. The document declared 
that the decline of the Empire during the preceding 150 years was 
due to disregard of justice and law ; that hence, relying on the assist- 
ance of the Almighty and the intercessions of the Prophet, the Sultan 
sought by new institutions to bestow upon his provinces the benefits 
of a good administration. It guaranteed security of Hfe, honour, and 
property to all, a uniform and just system of taxation, and uni- 
formity in conscription and military service. It is to be regretted 
that national inertia and prejudice prevented fuU advantage being 
taken of such a noble and honest effort to resurrect the glorious 
days of Suleiman the Magnificent.^ 

The name of the kiosk {giil means rose) was due to the fact that in 
former days rose sweetmeats were prepared here, under the personal 
supervision of the Chief Confectioner, for use in the harem. 

' For further details I may refer readers to Grosvenor, Constantinople, pp. 712-713, 
from whose pages the above account has been taken, to White, Three Years in Constantin- 
ople, vol. i, pp. 110-113, and Sir H. Luke, The Making of Modern Turkey (London, 
1936), p. 49 et seq. 




(Jn the summit of Seraglio Hill, in the centre of the land- wall, 
stands the Imperial Gate, Bah-i-Humayun, giving direct access to the 
First Court, often known to Europeans as the Court of the Janis- 
saries. The Imperial Gate is a massive triumphal arch of gleaming 
white marble, having its outer and inner gates some fifteen yards 
apart. Originally it was a two-storied structure with two rows of 
windows stretching across the complete facade ; to-day there is but 
a parapet of pierced marble, exactly similar to that built round the 
pool in the Fourth Court and the courtyard of the Princes' Kafes, or 
Cage. In Grelot's time the upper story was surmounted by " Four 
httle round Towers which are like so many small round Chimneys ; 
they are only for Ornament, and to show that such a Gate gives 
entrance into a Royal PaUace."* In the following century the 
number was reduced to two,^ while in Fossati's drawing (to which I 
shall refer again) they have entirely disappeared. 

On each side of the double-arched portal are mitred niches, where 
the heads of important officials were exposed. Over the inner arch 
are the builder's seal and a gilded inscription attributed to Mu- 
hammad II, "God shall make eternal the glory of its builder; God 
shall strengthen his work; God shall support his foundations." 

A guard of kapici, or gatekeepers, some fifty strong, was on duty 
during the day, being reinforced at night by janissaries, "in Httle 
movable wooden houses on wheels, who are watchmen and notice 
everything so that they can awaken those who are within and give 
any warning that may be needed." ^ 

The First Court was of a semi-pubhc nature, and entry was refused 
to nobody, whatever his rank or creed. Owing possibly to the 
contour of the hiU and the great church of St Irene, the shape of the 

' Relation nouveUe, p. 80 of the English edirion. 
* See d'Ohsson's engraving. 
5 Bon, p. 60. 



court is irregular, and after passing through the Imperial Gate one 
bears considerably to the left in order to reach the centre of the 

To the right were the infirmary, the Imperial bakery, and the 
waterworks ; to the left the great wood-yard, the church of St Irene,^ 
the Imperial mint, the Privy Treasury, the Palace storehouse, and 
two pavilions for members of the Outer Service. In the middle, to 
the left, stood a horse fountain and the famous janissary tree, while 
near the Ortakapi were two ' example stones,' on which the heads of 
the decapitated were sometimes exposed, and the Fountain of Execu- 
tion, in which the Chief Executioner and his assistant washed their 
bloodstained hands. 

One rule strongly enforced was that of silence. Nearly all travellers 
have remarked on the extraordinary silence that was maintained in 
the different courts with increasing degrees of intensity, until in the 
Third Court it was like 'the silence of the tomb.' Writing in 155 1, 
Nicolay says : 

And notwithstanding the number of the people coming together 
from all partes is very great, yet suche silence is kept, that yee could 
scarce say that the standers by did either spit or cough. ^ 

And about 1700 we read in Tournefort: 

Anybody may enter the first Court of the Seraglio . . . but everything 
is so still, the Motion of a Fly might be heard in a manner : and if any 
one should presume to raise his voice ever so Httle, or shew the least 
want of Respect to the Mansion-place of their Emperor he would 
instandy have the Bastinado by the Officers that go the rounds ; nay, 
the very Horses seem to know where they are, and no doubt they are 
taught to tread softer than in the streets.^ 

The famous plane-tree under which the janissaries so often over- 
turned their ' kettles ' as a sign of revolt, and from the branches of which 
so many have hung, is now reduced to a mere stump — in reality part of 
the great hollow trunk that stood here only a few years ago — resting 

' For a detailed and comprehensive account of this most interesting church (which has 
never been converted into a mosque) see van MiUingen, Byzantine Churches in Con- 
stantinople (London, 191 2), chapter iv. 

2 Quatre premiers liures, p. 51 verso of the English and p. 66 of the French edition. 

' Voyage into the Levant (London, 1741), vol. ii, p. 183. 



on a stone support. In 1895 it was a fine tree with enormous spread- 
ing branches, as the photograph in Grosvenor's Constantinople^ will 

The court was unpaved save for cobbled paths leading to the 
various gates and entrances of the different buildings. Important 
people, such as ambassadors and certain members of the Inner Service, 
could enter the court on horseback, but all had to dismount outside 
the Ortakapi. 

Before describing Melling*s drawing I might quote once again 
from Bon (1604-7) : 

What makes this Seraglio dignified and sedate is the order of its 
arrangement — a fact that cannot be passed over in silence. In the first 
place there is the entrance by a most spacious and noble gate with a 
very roomy colonnade underneath, having a guard of about 50 men 
provided with their proper arms — namely, arquebuses, bows and 
arrows, and a good supply of scimitars. Having passed through this 
gate, by which the Pashas and other persons of consequence may enter 
on horseback, one reaches a large piazza where the courtyard is a 
quarter of an Italian mile in length and about the same in width, with 
a single colonnade on the left hand made to protect the horses and 
servants in wet weather. On the right of the entrance to this great 
courtyard is the hospital, or infirmary which serves the whole Seraglio, 
being provided with all essentials ; it is in charge of a eunuch, with 
various officials all allotted to the service of the patients. Opposite, on 
the left side, is a very large place where timber, carts, and other articles 
of manual labour are kept for the use and service of the Seraglio. Above 
it is a great haU where there is a store of ancient arms such as helmets, 
coats-of-mail, zacchi [gaundets ( ?)], arquebuses, and javelins, which are 
used in arming the janissaries, the corporation of the arsenal, and other 
residents for meeting the King or Pasha-general [Grand Vizir] when 
they make their solemn entry into the city of Constantinople.^ 

Now in Melling's drawing of the First Court, reproduced opposite 
p. 86, we are right inside the court, and consequently see neither the 
Imperial Gate, nor the infirmary, nor the wood-yard. They all 
appear, however, in Fossati's painting ^ (in two sheets) made about 
1852, and reproduced by Dr Miller in her Beyond the Sublime Porte,* 

' P. 716. » P. 61. 

^ G. Fossati, Aya Sofia (Constantinople, 1852), oblong folio. Some editions are 
* P. 166. 



where an excellent account of the various buildings will be found 
together with a reconstructed plan.^ 

Melling gives us a picture of the everyday Hfe of the court, and has 
introduced figures in such a way as to illustrate the different services, 
customs, and costumes connected with the Seraglio. For instance, 
several groups of servants attending some important personages on 
horseback will be noticed. It is, then, the hour when Ministers of 
State are received in audience, the degree of their rank being shown 
by the number of their retinue. On reaching the Ortakapi they dis- 
mount, and the servants tend the horse and keep it perfectly quiet 
while their master proceeds to the Divan to transact his business. In 
the centre foreground is a sick man in a Utter being taken to the in- 
firmary, to which the men are proceeding in a direct line. Thevenot 
(1687) says the sick are borne "in a Httle close Chariot, drawn by 
two men ; when they see that Chariot, every one steps aside to make 
way for it, even the Grand Signior, if he happen'd to meet it would 
do so."^ The infirmary was under the jurisdiction of the Chief 
White Eunuch, and all the porters, orderHes, Utter-bearers, etc., were 
also white eunuchs. It was used exclusively by the pages of the 
Palace School, the hospital on the Marmora being for the members 
of the Outer Service. 

The organization and general running of the infirmary appear to 
have been excellent, and J.-B. Tavemier tells us how the pages try to 
get in on some pretext or other : 

They continue there for the space of ten or twelve daies, and are 
diverted, according to their mode, with a wretched kind of vocal and 
instrumental Musick, which begins betimes in the morning, and holds 
on till night. The permission they have there to drink wine, which 
they never have elsewhere, is a greater inducement for their coming 
in thither, than the Musick.^ 

But apart from this the smuggling in of skins of wine was carried on 
to a large extent, and was a means of making the eunuchs lax in their 
duties, so that certain vicious practices, impossible in the SeragUo 
proper, could here be indulged in with impunity. 

' Facing p. 160. ^ Travels into the Levant, pp. 23-24. 

3 A New Relation of the Inner-Part of the Grand Seignor's SeragUo (London, 1677), 
p. 22. 



Looking again at Melling's drawing, we see two janissaries coming 
from the direction of the infirmary bearing on their shoulders a pole 
from which is suspended the 'kettle,' to which I shall return later. 
In front of them walks a non-commissioned officer carrying the ladle. 

Various SeragHo servants will be noticed : one walking by the wall 
of the Imperial bakery with a tray of covered dishes (presumably 
hot rolls for the infirmary) on his head, while others wearing conical 
felt hats are engaged in more menial tasks. 

As we have already seen in chapter iii (p. 66), the Imperial mill 
and bakery was situated on the Marmora near the Degirmen Kapi, 
or Mill Gate, and was in active use until in 1616 Ahmed I built a 
new bakery in the First Court. So high a standard of bread was 
required that even in times of shortage no excuse was taken if the 
pure whiteness of the Royal bread was affected in the smallest degree. 
Bon tells us that the bread was of several kinds : very white for the 
Kong, the Sultanas, the Pashas, and other grandees, moderately good 
for the middle folk, and black for the ajem-oghlans. " For the Royal 
taste," he continues, 

and that of the Sultanas Brusa flour is used, extracted from com grown 
in the Province of Bithynia in the patrimonial territory of the Ottoman 
Empire. The annual production is from seven to eight thousand clilo 
[kilos], which is possibly about three thousand Venetian stara, the com 
yielding splendid flour by the mills that are in that city of perfect 
quality. As for the others, all the com comes from Greece, where are 
the patrimonial estates of the said Emperor, the grain of which is 
always consumed by the army, biscuits being made from it at Negro- 
ponte, and some is also sold to the Ragusans, who come to lade it 
furnished with the necessary bills [comandamento in mano]. Of this com 
thirty-six to forty thousand clilb, about fifteen thousand stara, comes to 
Constantinople every year and is used by the Seraglio. No surprise is 
shown at the Porte's consuming such a large quantity, for apart from 
the ordinary service, all the married Sultanas, all the Pashas, all the 
grandees, and many more besides have their daily allowance of bread 
from the Chilier, which is the store, or else from the King's supply — 
thus the Sultanas would receive twenty, the Pashas ten, the mufti eight, 
and so on, proportionally down to one per head as determined at the 
wiU of the Grand Vizir, each apportioned share being left with the head 
of the store. Each loaf is as big as a good cake, tender and spongy.^ 

' P. 96. 







l"icS7- .T«j^i-^^5 I 




On the opposite side of the court are the cupolas of the mint, which 
(apart from St Irene, not shown in the reproduction opposite p. 86) 
is the only building of the First Court still standing. It was trans- 
ferred from its earher site on the Third Hill some time prior to 1695. 
The mint included the Pavihon of Goldsmiths and Gem-setters, in 
which all the elaborate ornamentation used in the decoration of the 
rooms in the harem and the selamlik was made, as well as the kadins 
jewellery. Among the archives of the Seragho Tahsin Chukru, the 
Director, recently discovered a book containing a list of the crafts- 
men employed in 1536, together with their rates of pay. They 
number 580 in all, and include the following : 

58 goldsmiths 3 workers in amber 

4 makers of silver thread 14 carvers 

9 engravers 18 swordsmiths 

5 gold chasers 18 cutlers 

8 shield-makers 19 coppersmiths 

22 makers of damascened sabres 16 armourers 

4 silk weavers 1 1 makers of musical 
16 seamsters instruments 

12 potters or tile-makers 15 upholsterers 

22 rehef decorators 3 glovers 

Specimens of their work can be seen not only in the SeragHo 
Museum, but in the incrustation and inlay work in the passages, walls, 
cupboards, sofas, ceilings, and the floors of rooms in both the harem 
and the selamlik. 

There still remain the Palace waterworks to be discussed. They are 
situated in the far right-hand comer of the court, hidden away behind 
a high wall. Access is gained from the Second Court through a 
small door near the corner where the kitchen buildings commence. 
The door leads to a slope under the main wall, at the bottom of which 
are two wells, one round and the other oblong. Both are connected 
with the main well, which Hes some fifty paces farther on. The work 
is that of the great Sinan, and so apparently was built at the same 
time as the kitchens. The well is still in active use, being supple- 
mented by a dynamo, the whole now enclosed by a new brick build- 
ing. One passes through the power-house, and in a chamber beyond 
is the well itself, having a diameter of some twelve or fourteen feet. 



It is a solidly constructed well. A narrow iron bridge runs across the 
surface, and electric lights placed at intervals on the walls enable one 
to get a good view of this interesting specimen of sixteenth-century 
domestic architecture. 

As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the First Court was 
often known as the Court of the Janissaries, and not without good 
reason, for throughout its bloody history this corps had been in- 
separably linked with the SeragHo. 

It is advisable, then, to get some idea of the origin and develop- 
ment of this first Turkish standing army, especially when most of the 
long-accepted traditions have been found to crumple up and wither 
before the Hght of recent research. But so attractive is the old pic- 
turesque legend to account for both the origin, and the name, and 
the dress of the corps that it may well be related here before we discard 
it for good. 

According to the traditional story Orkhan (1326-59), having 
selected a number of Christian youths from those taken captive, sent 
them to be blessed by Haji Bektash, the celebrated dervish, whom 
they found Hving near Amasia. Standing in front of their ranks, he 
stretched the sleeve of his gown over the head of the foremost 
soldier, and dehvered his blessing in these words : 

"Let them be called janissaries [yeni cheri, or new soldiers] ! May 
their countenances be ever bright, their hand ever victorious, their 
sword keen ! May their spears always hang over the heads of their 
enemies! And wheresoever they go may they return with a white 

And as the holy man raised his hand in blessing the thick sleeve 
of his robe hung down in a double fold, and in commemoration of 
the benediction a cloth flap modelled on the sleeve was henceforth 
attached to the hat of the janissaries. Whatever may have been its 
true origin, the headdress is certainly curious, as a glance at the 
plate opposite p. 94 shows. 

Now there are several points about this legend which should be 
noted. Firstly, it dates from only the second half of the sixteenth 
century — that is to say, two centuries later than the event related. 
Secondly, it was quite arbitrary to which Sultan to attribute the event. 
Although Orkhan is the favourite, Osman I, before him, and Murad I 



and Murad II, after him, have also been credited with the institution 
of the janissaries. It is only natural to conclude that the corps took 
considerable time to become properly organized, and that each suc- 
ceeding Sultan improved or re-formed it as he thought fit. 

The question has, however, been fully dealt with by the late 
F. W. Hasluck,^ who shows that, so far from dating back to Orkhan 
or even Murad II, the organization of the system must be referred to 
a date subsequent to 1472. 

Briefly the evidence leading to this conclusion is as follows. The 
distinctive feature of the janissary system is the recruitment of the 
corps from a levy of the Christian children of the Empire, who were 
forcibly converted and specially trained for their profession. Now, 
although seventeenth-century writers, such as Evliya, refer to it, 
there is no mention whatever of this systematic collecting of Chris- 
tian children in the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century accounts of 
the janissaries by such noted and observant travellers as Ibn Batuta, 
Schiltberger, and Bertrandon de la Brocquiere. It would appear, 
therefore, that, following the Muhammadan law by which royalty 
had the right to one fifth of the prisoners and booty captured in 
battle, the earlier Sultans maintained a kind of bodyguard or corps 
d' elite formed of bought or captured slaves, who would naturally be 
mainly Christians. 

This force was reorganized after Orkhan's time, and the prisoners 
who composed it were induced to become Muhammadans and 
undergo a thorough military training. The members of this corps 
are called by Chalcondyles and Ducas, the Byzantine historians of the 
fifteenth century, Tropra or dvpa, inferring that they stood at the Sul- 
tan's gate.^ Later they were known as Slaves of the Gate. That the 
levy of Christian children was not yet (fifteenth century) systematized 
seems obvious, or surely the Greek historians would have mentioned 
it; and as late as 1472 another historian, Cippico, still describes the 
janissaries as recruited largely from the Sultan's fifth of the prisoners 
of war. Turning to the connexion of Haji Bektash with the janis- 
saries, we gather that he was originally only a tribal saint subsequently 

' Christianity and Islam under the Sultans (Oxford, 1929), vol, ii, pp. 483-493. 
* Hasluck suggests that this association with the gate, through janua, aided in the 
formation of the Western word 'janissary.* 



'captured' and adopted by the Hurufi sect, who foisted their own 
doctrines as those of Haji Bektash on the latter's disciples. As the 
sect grew in power this ex-tribal saint became more and more 
respected, and numerous legends began to attach themselves to him. 
The sect was soon in a position to ' father ' the entire janissary organiza- 
tion, and Haji Bektash was adopted as their patron, the connexion 
being officially recognized from 1591 onward. It was just prior to 
this that the story of the saint's blessing of the corps first made 
its appearance. Not only is it not universally accepted, but it is 
emphatically denied by contemporary historians, one of whom was 
from Bektash's own country. In view of the evidence, then, we must 
regard the canonized legend of Haji Bektash, Orkhan, and the first 
janissaries as purely fictitious. At the same time that in no way 
interferes with the subsequent history of the corps, its customs and 
general organization. 

The recruits were obtained from all conquered countries, but 
mainly from Albania, Bosnia, and Bulgaria. Their education and 
training followed immediately, the majority becoming ajem-oghlans 
and doing hard manual labour to fit them for every type of physical 
endurance that might be necessary later on. The selected few were 
attached to the Palace School, and went through a complete system 
of education. Subsequently they would be put in command of 
some frontier garrison, and moved about from province to province 
as occasion demanded. 

The laws were at first most strict, enforcing impHcit obedience, 
absolute concord among the corps, abstinence from all forms of 
luxury, forbidding marriage or domestic ties of any kind, and demand- 
ing observance of all reHgious laws of Haji Bektash. Members of the 
corps were not to trade in any way, were to observe certain rules as 
to their toilet and dress, were not to leave their barracks, were to 
have no pay in peace-time, and were to receive arms only in time 
of war. Their rations were quite inadequate, and soon led to the 
breaking of some of the regulations. As time went on all kinds of 
abuses occurred, as we shall shortly see. In 155 1 Nicolay describes 
the janissary as being armed with a "scymitar, and a dagger with a 
little hatchet hanging at his girdle, using also long harquebusses which 
they can handle very well." Janissaries were not allowed to wear 



beards, but *' to the intent they should seem the more cruel and furious 
in the aspect of their faces they let their mustachioes grow very long 
gross and thick." Their dress consisted of a dark blue cloth coat, 
while among the older members the Bektash headdress was enriched 
by an enormous plume of bird-of-paradise feathers, which fell in a 
curve down the back nearly to the knees. Nicolay gives a good 
drawing of this, as well as of the Agha (or Chief Commander) of 
Janissaries, with his embroidered under-coat, long hanging sleeves, 
and big turban. The colour of the boots at once proclaimed the rank 
of the wearer — red, yellow, and black in descending order being the 
colours worn. 

The names of the officers were all connected with the culinary art. 
Thus the Agha was known as the Chorbaji-hashi, or Head Soup- 
distributor ; then came the A§gi-bashi, or Head Cook, followed by 
the Sakka-bashi, or Head Water-carrier. Their standard was em- 
blazoned with a huge kazan (' kettle ' or cauldron), which merits some 
detailed consideration. It is hard to say exactly when these ' kettles ' 
began to play such an important part in the history of the corps. 
It seems clear, however, that it was not until some considerable time 
after its foundation. At first the connexion was simply one of 
reverence ; it was only later on when the corps began to get out of 
hand that the 'kettles' became an object of terror and the sign 
of rebellion and bloodshed. In actual fact the 'kettles' were mess 
cauldrons covered with a lid used for the distribution of the food. 

According to tradition the first ' kettles ' issued were modelled on 
those in daily use by the Bektashi dervishes, and were presented by 
Muhammad II to the different odas^ previous to the attack on Con- 
stantinople (1453). Before that time each man had to provide his 
own rations, but henceforth each oda was to have its own mess officer 
to procure supplies of bread, salt, rice, and suet as daily rations. Hence 
the oath of fidelity with bread and salt. Each oda had a large regi- 
mental copper, while the ordinary-sized ' kettles ' were distributed in 
the proportion of one to every twenty janissaries. Although, as seen 

' The word oda literally means 'room' or 'chamber,' and by extension 'lodging,' 
'house' (in the way the word is used in English pubhc schools). Thus in the Seragho 
it denoted a chamber of pages or harem recruits, while in a mihtary sense it became 
the barracks, and finally the unit of a corps [ocak, formerly ojaq, 'hearth'). Closely 
allied is the word orta, 'centre,' 'middle,' and so a battahon of an ocak. 



in Melling's drawing (p. 86), tlie large spoon was carried separately 
by a non-commissioned officer, each man wore his own spoon for the 
ordinary 'ketdes' in a brass socket sewn into the front of his cap. 

And so the * kettles ' came by degrees to be symbols of miUtary 
pride, and, like our drums, were piled in the front of the tent of the 
Agha when the janissaries were in camp. On the march the ' kettles ' 
were carried by recruits in relays, and their loss during a battle 
was a lasting disgrace to the oda of the ocak. The large regimental 
copper was borne by older men, and its loss was considered so grave 
that only some exploit of great daring could efface the stain. In 
times of peace the janissaries assembled in the Second Court after 
midday prayer every Friday to receive their due allowance o£ pilaf. 
The Sultan waited in the kiosk between the Divan and the Gate of 
Felicity, and watched the proceedings with considerable anxiety. If 
the ' kettle '-bearers fetched the rice from the kitchens at the accus- 
tomed signal all was well, but if they stayed in the ranks and turned 
the ' kettles ' upside-down it was a symbol of dissatisfaction and possibly 
revolution. The immediate action of the Sultan depended upon the 
justness of the complaints and the personal ability of the particular 
Sultan to check insubordination and revolt. The results were often 
terrible and swift ; the hostanji would be summoned, the ringleaders 
and ' kettle '-bearers seized, and a pile of heads would soon appear 
outside the Ortakapi. 

On the other hand, from the seventeenth century onward the 
power of the janissaries became tremendous, and not less than six 
Sultans were either dethroned or murdered through their agency. 
But let us trace briefly how this state of affairs was brought about. 
The original corps, being composed of Christian captives, soon 
reaHzed that the Sultan was their new father, and that everything they 
had, were, or could ever become was entirely in his hands. So long, 
therefore, as he led them into battle and retained the warlike spirit 
of the early Sultans the mOitary moral was maintained and the corps 
became the finest standing army in Europe. But when the Sultans 
exchanged the battlefield for the harem regulations became lax, the 
original spirit of the corps was neglected, and all kinds of abuses soon 
turned this fine body of men into the scourge and bane of the Otto- 
man Empire. Until the time of Murad III (1574) the number never 



exceeded 20,000 all told, but irregularities started in the middle of his 
reign, and by the end of the century the janissaries totalled over 
48,000. This was due to several factors, all detrimental to the corps. 
No longer were the odas recruited only by the Christians, but by true 
Ottomans who had personal ties with the people, and no more did 
they look upon the Sultan as their father. Long intervals of peace 
had stained the ceHbate janissaries with all kinds of vices and evil 
practices, and as soon as they felt their power growing they began to 
marry, and so became more independent than ever. If money or 
food was short a fire could easily be started, when wholesale looting 
would naturally follow. It is estimated that during the reign of 
Ahmed III (1703-30) no less than 140 such fires occurred. The 
married janissaries were allowed to live out of barracks, and soon 
not only their children, but friends and relations, became enrolled as 
members of the corps. Thus in time the percentage of utterly useless 
men and downright scoundrels was very considerable, and early in 
the nineteenth century the number on the pay-roll had reached the 
enormous figure of over 130,000. The efforts of Sehm III to organize 
a new force ended in failure, and although Bairakdar Pasha was more 
successful in 1806 the new troops were again suppressed. It remained 
for Mahmud II (1808-39) to crush the corps once and for all. His 
was no sudden and unpremeditated step, but was the culmination of 
no less than sixteen years' careful and studied preparation. 

Mahmud had already witnessed the appalling horrors of a janis- 
sary revolt, he had seen the city covered with a sheet of fire, he had 
heard the cries of women and children and the groans of the dying. 
This experience did not stop the Sultan from planning innovations, 
as the janissaries hoped and beheved; on the contrary, it engendered 
in his soul the firm determination to eradicate the entire corps for 
ever, preparing the way by every means possible. Honours and bribes 
were bestowed in certain quarters, while others who proved trouble- 
some soon found their way to the Bosphorus never to appear again. 
The power of distant Pashas was undermined, and the janissaries 
were thus deprived of the help of discontented provincial aUies. The 
new corps of regular soldiers, eshkenji, was increasing all the time, 
and many of the janissary officers had been gained over: thus 
mutual distrust arose in the ranks of the odas. By 1826 Mahmud was 



ready. The rising had been carefully provoked by the Government, 
and the janissaries marched to the Et-meidan Square and reversed 
their ' kettles ' in the usual manner to signify a revolt. Finding that 
their Agha had deserted to the Government, they attacked his 
Palace and abused what remained of his harem. Thence they went 
to the Porte, and burned the archives and destroyed everything they 
could lay hands on. But their end was in sight. The seashore was 
guarded, the Seragho was full of armed bostanji, and the new army 
was pouring into the city. 

The Prophet's sacred Standard was unfurled, and a curse and 
sentence of eternal dissolution on the janissaries was pronounced. 
A fetva was obtained from the Sheikh-ul-Islam, giving a spiritual 
sanction to the proceedings, and the attack commenced. The work 
of the new army was made easy by the corps' returning to the Et- 
meidan Square, and every avenue leading to it was soon occupied 
by the enemy. After a moment of uncertainty the guns did their 
work, and the grapeshot played terrible havoc in the crowded, 
narrow streets. Those who escaped the artillery and the sword were 
burned in their barracks. But even then Mahmud was not satisfied, 
and men who had hidden in their homes or escaped out of the city 
were hunted down and drowned in the Bosphorus. Altogether it is 
estimated that over 25,000 men perished, and the janissaries were no 

Before we leave the First Court behind us let us examine in detail 
the engraving by Melling which is reproduced opposite. This en- 
graving shows a portion of the great procession making its way, on 
the feast o£Ba'iram, from the First Court of the Seragho towards one 
of the outside mosques — Sancta Sophia or Ahmed. It is represented 
as just issuing from the Bab-i-Humayun, or Imperial Gate, and con- 
tinuing past the beautiful fountain of Ahmed III towards the square 
of Et-meidan, whence entrance to either of the two above-mentioned 
mosques would be obtained. 

The Imperial Gate is shown before the removal of its upper story, 
and although the perspective tends to minimize the size of the main 
entrance, a general idea of Imperial sohdity and consequence is un- 
doubtedly conveyed. 



To the right the wall stretches away towards the Marmora, where 
it meets the sea-walls near the Akhor Kapi, or Gate of the Stables. 
The conical tops on two of the towers have long disappeared, but 
otherwise the wall remains the same to-day, as does also the fountain 
of Ahmed III opposite. 

On inspection of the main subject of the engraving it will be noticed 
that the artist has cleverly taken several representative figures out of 
the procession and placed them in the foreground in order that their 
costumes can be more easily studied. 

Beginning on the extreme left under the tree, we notice a Pasha on 
horseback accompanied by his servants, some of whom clear the 
way in front, while the rest follow closely behind. 

In front of his horse, in the foreground, is an officer of the janis- 
saries of the rank of Segban-bashi, next below that of Agha. His 
ceremonial dress includes a jacket with upturned epaulettes of a 
curious pointed design. To his right is a prancing horse on which 
fine trappings and shovel stirrups can be seen. It is being restrained 
by a baltajiler, or halberdier of the Outer Service, a unit to be dis- 
cussed in the chapter on the Second Court. 

The curious pendant hat will be noticed, and enables members of 
the corps to be picked out in different parts of the procession. They 
acted as a bodyguard, among their other duties, and walked by the 
side of the horses or carriages of those they were guarding. They 
usually carried halberds, but in the present engraving this particular 
weapon is seen in the hands of the peiks, whose duty it was to run in 
front of the Sultan and go on missions whenever necessary. These 
]^eiks formed a branch of the halberdiers, and their costume is espe- 
cially interesting as it was taken over in toto from the Byzantine 

Melling has placed one almost in the middle foreground of his 
picture. His tall truncated conical hat surmounted by a triple plume 
differs considerably from the pointed hat worn by the man standing 
next him on his immediate right. This latter is also a baltajiler, but 
belongs to that section known as Zuliijli. 

To the right of the couple stand two janissaries, so arranged that 
the curious headdress, already discussed, can be closely studied. It 
will be noticed that these janissaries line the route of the procession. 



To the right of the two janissaries stands a kapici, wearing an 
enormous headdress of white feathers. Besides being doorkeepers 
the kapici accompanied the Sultan in times of war and acted as 
guards of his tent. 

In the main body of the procession Sehm III will be noticed sur- 
rounded by a white feathery mass, which is merely the headdress of 
numerous kapici. 

In front of the Sultan rides the Grand Vizir, who is preceded by 
other important officials. Immediately behind is the Sword-bearer, 
or Silihdar, and behind him again is the Chief Black Eunuch, or 
Kislar Agha. 

Other pages of high rank, such as the Chokadar, or Bearer of the 
Royal Robes, and the Sharabdar, or Cupbearer, do not appear in the 
engraving, but would be somewhere behind in the First Court. 

For purposes of comparison mention might be made of two 
coloured engravings of "le Cortege du Sultan" by Melling, to be 
found in J. M. Tancoigne, Voyage a Smyrne, dans I'archipel et Vile 
de Candie en 1811-14.^ 

' Paris, 1817. 




So far aU we have seen has been of a semi-pubhc nature, because 
of the rigid enforcement of certain rules to which attention was 
drawn in the last chapter. By the officials of the Inner Service the 
First Court was never regarded as part of the Palace proper, and 
consequently with them the numbering of the courts began at the 
gate which led into the Court of the Divan, and not at the Imperial 
Gate. But, as we shall shortly see, there were many other much more 
important rules and regulations made to leave no shadow of doubt 
in the minds of all concerned that the Ortakapi was the threshold of 
sovereign majesty, and as such must be approached with due rever- 
ence and humility. 

The Court of the Divan is separated from the Outer Palace by a 
strongly built wall known as the Inner Wall, in the middle of which 
stands the Ortakapi, or Central Gate. This gate at once attracts 
attention by its curiously medieval appearance, and kindles a persis- 
tent desire to know more of its history and significance. 

Although it is impossible to say for certain when it was built, there 
is good reason to believe that it represents one of the few portions of 
the original palace as built by Muhammad II. For if we look at the 
woodcut at p. cclvii of Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle^ 
we can at once recognize the Ortakapi as it is to-day. Certainly 
renovations have occurred from time to time. One of the present 
iron doors is dated a.h. 931 — i.e., a.d. 1524-25 — but in structure 
and design, as well as in position, the two are identical. Two stoutly 
built octagonal towers pierced with loopholes and capped with 
conical tops like candle-snuffers flank a gatehouse surmounted by a 
battlement. The merlons have sloping tops decorated with a small 
ornament at each end, and conceal a walk, reached by a flight of 

' 1493- 

G 97 


Stone steps behind each tower, broad enough to hold cannon in time 
of need. There was a strong guard of fifty gatekeepers {kapici), who 
were constantly on duty within and without the gate. If we can rely 
on the evidence of travellers and historians, this number remained 
unchanged for at least three centuries. Part of the duties of the 
guards was to see that absolute silence was maintained, and that the 
horses of those seeking audience were properly attended by the 
equerries or servants while their masters were within. For, as men- 
tioned in the last chapter, even the few high functionaries of the 
Inner Service and visiting ambassadors who alone were allowed to ride 
into the First Court past the Imperial Gate had now to dismount and 
proceed on foot. The knowledge of the lengthy Court ceremonial 
that began as soon as a foot had crossed the threshold did not tend to 
moUify the air of mystery that already surrounded the Ortakapi, 
while the not infrequent sight of severed heads being carried out of 
the gate must have filled many with great concern, if not with abject 

But the gate was still a place of reception, and for this reason was 
formerly called Bab-el-Selam, or Gate of Salutation. So let us go in 
and inspect it for ourselves. As we pass under the outer porch, with 
seated recesses either side, we reach a double iron door heavily 
embossed, above which is the tugra, or Imperial seal, while above that 
again and covering the full breadth of the door is the Islamic creed 
" La ilaha illa-Uahu, Muhammad rasul allahi." ^ We at once fmd our- 
selves in a vestibule some fifteen feet long by twenty feet broad, the 
walls of which are adorned with arms of no particular value or interest.^ 

To-day the vestibule is merely used for the sale of postcards and 
as a depository for cameras and other forbidden tourist impedimenta. 
Dark and narrow passages lead off either side, communicating in both 
cases with various small rooms. Those to the right are twice as 
large as those to the left, which accounts for the fact that the canopy 
over the inner door, through which we shall soon emerge to the 
Court of the Divan, has its columns unequally divided, there being 
five on one side and only three on the other. 

' " There is no God but God [Allah], Muhammad is the apostle of God." 
* I understand that the rarer specimens that were here once are now in the arms museum 
housed in the church of St Irene, in the First Court. 



The larger rooms to the right were used by the foreign ambassadors 
and other important visitors while awaiting audience. We are told 
that in order that they should be duly impressed with the might of 
the Sultan and his Court they were often kept waiting hours or even 
days on end. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, more 
respect was shown to envoys of foreign Powers, and (as we shall see 
later) an ambassador was conducted straight to the Ortakapi, where 
he was offered a seat in the vestibule, while the Chaush-bashi (Grand 
Master of Petitions) proceeded to the Divan to announce his arrival. 
At the same time the existence of a small wash-room and lavatory 
contributed to make a temporary residence here quite possible. 

To the left are the guard-rooms and the Cellat Odasiy or Room of 
the Executioner. They are all very small, being, in fact, divisions of 
a single room. Below all these rooms are the dungeons into which 
the unfortunate people were thrust who had displeased the Sultan. 
From the small cells in one of the towers, where they were usually 
put in the first instance, they were removed to the dungeons, then 
into the cistern below, and fmally to the Room of the Executioner. 

If they were officials of high rank their heads were placed on a row 
of iron spikes which formerly extended above the outer gateway, 
slowly to blacken in the sun. If their rank was below that of Pasha 
the several heads were carried to the Bab-i-Hutnayun, or Imperial 
Gate, where, as we saw in the last chapter, they were exposed to the 
pubUc gaze in the niches on either side of the main entrance. In 
either case a yafta, or conical-shaped scroll, was affixed on the adjoin- 
ing wall stating in bold characters the name of the offender and the 
nature of his crime, *' to be a warning to those who would be warned.'* 
There the yafta would remain, competing with the head to see which 
would stand up longer against the vicissitudes of the cHmate, unless 
a bereaved relative bribed the Chief Gatekeeper to remove it. 

From this grim portal we pass on towards the Court of the Divan, 
and find ourselves standing under a canopy supported by ten pillars, 
eight in front and one either side. They are all of marble except one, 
which is of granite, and form the central part of a colonnade running 
practically round all four sides of the entire court. In describing the 
canopy about 1550 Pierre Gilles says, "the roof of it proudly gUtters 
with gold, and is beautify'd with the most rich and Hvely colours of 



Persian work." ' Apparently it was kept in excellent order and con- 
tinually repaired, for just a hundred years ago we find Miss Julia 
Pardoe still extolling its beauty : 

The roof itself is pointed, and crowned by a flashing crescent of gold ; 
while underneath it is divided into a lattice work of gilt bars, traversing 
a ground of brightest blue, and looking hke a sheet of turquoise. The 
elaborately tessellated pavement beneath, apparently intended to repre- 
sent the reflection of the roof, is composed of curious stones, cemented 
together with some preparation, which, in its present state, appears as 
though hquid gold had been used to connect the different portions.^ 

But sad changes have been wrought since then, and to-day it presents 
a very effete appearance, and modem horrors of Turkish mural 
paintings disfigure the walls. 

From our feet radiate four paths lined with box-hedges, cypresses, 
and plane-trees, stretching away to various parts of the court, which 
we shall soon inspect in detail. An air of quiet and repose pervades 
the court, and, judging by the early descriptions that have come down 
to us, the general aspect has changed but Httle during the centuries. 

"One enters another courtyard," says Ottaviano Bon, 

a htde smaller than the first but much more beautiful, owing to its 
variety of elegant fountains, avenues flanked by very tall cypresses, 
and the presence of certain stretches of lawn where the growing grass 
provides pasture for a number of gazelles which breed and are regarded 
with pleasure.^ 

The fountains have gone, save for a single ruin (No. 2 in the plan), 
and the gazelles have strayed, but the charm of the court remains, 
and the memories of the past still people it with a thousand ghosts 
hardly more silent than the members of the Inner Service themselves 
ua the days of the mighty Suleiman. 

The court, according to the most recent estimates,* measures about 
459 feet in length and 361 feet in width at its widest point. As the 
name by which it was most usually known (the Court of the Divan) 
implies, the chief unit was the Hall of the Divan, where the Council 
of State met four times a week to dispense justice and give audience, 

' Antiquities of Constantinople, p. 39. 

* The Beauties of the Bosphorus (London, 1839), pp. 70-71. ' P. 61. 

* Dr Miller, Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 176. 



and generally to attend to matters both civil and religious. Thus it 
united the two great divisions of the Government, the Ruling Institu- 
tion and the MusHm Institution. We shall return to the Divan later 
in order to describe the building in more detail, and give some account 
of the ceremonies which took place iia it. 

Although the whole of the right-hand side of the court was taken 
up with the kitchens it was, above all else, a court of ceremonial, 
and throughout its long history has been the scene of great spectacular 
events — military, civil, and reHgious. The commencement of a war, 
the accession of a Sultan, the circumcision of a Prince, the marriage 
of a Princess, the feasts oiBairdm, the reception of a foreign ambassa- 
dor — all provided an excuse for an elaborate and impressive 'show,' 
continuing in some cases for weeks on end. 

Here, and here alone in the SeragHo, the Government had ascen- 
dancy over the harem — at any rate on the surface — and the pageantry 
of Court ceremonial, the brilHancy and variety of costumes, the 
flashing of jewels from turban and scimitar, the waving ostrich plumes 
and extravagant headdresses, the silent and almost grim background 
afforded by the double lines of janissaries, all contributed to attest 
the power of the Sultan and to impress the foreigner with the might 
and majesty of the Ottoman Empire. 

As far as can be ascertained, both the site and the general architec- 
tural features of the Divan building have remained the same since 
the founding of the Palace. Situated on the left-hand side of the court 
and breaking the long colonnade by forming a large projecting right 
angle, the building consisted of a rectangular room divided by an 
arched partition into two nearly square chambers of equal size, each 
surmounted by a dome. That to the left, on the outside, was the 
Hall of the Divan (Kubbealti), while the other chamber was the 
registry {Defterhane), used mainly for the preparation, inspection, 
and storing of all Council documents. A third room, of slightly 
smaller dimensions, led off to the right, and was employed chiefly 
as a private office for the Grand Vizir. It was domed like the other 
two, and had its own exit to the portico outside. According to early 
descriptions the decoration of the rooms was truly magnificent, the 
use of gold and jewels being on a lavish scale. 

In 1574 a fire did great damage to the Divan, and although the 



rebuilding by Murad III and subsequent repairs by Selim III and 
Mahmud II did much to restore it to its former condition, we can 
safely say that the decoration and richness of the hangings were not 
on the same scale as they had been in the time of Suleiman the Mag- 
nificent. So also has the Divan Tower, which raises its famihar 
pointed spire immediately behind the Divan itself, suffered by fire 
and been rebuilt and repaired several times. But here again its general 
shape, form, and position have been so well preserved that in the 
Nuremberg engraving of 1493 we can recognize it at once. A 
covered portico with a richly ornate roof and enclosed by handsome 
wrought-iron gates and railings lends a sense of importance and dignity 
to the whole. 

To-day the interior decoration of the rooms is attractive by 
its simplicity — ordinary panelling with baroque ornamentation of 
Louis XV style at once proclaiming its date as about 1725-30. Sofas 
rim round the rooms at the bottom of the panelling, which ceases at 
the commencement of the vaulting. 

Signs of mural decoration stiU show on the pendentives. The 
principal point of interest in the Divan room, however, is the httle 
grilled window opposite the door, and built high up above the 
Grand Vizir's seat. Although formerly flush with the wall, and 
consequently less noticeable, it now projects like an oriel window, and 
is decorated in the Louis XV style in accordance with the rest of the 

It was the unfailing practice of the early Sultans to attend the 
Divan personally, but Suleiman discontinued it and built this httle 
window, into which he could creep unobserved without the Council's 
knowing if he were there or not. In this way a certain check was kept 
on the proceedings, which always had to take place as if in the actual 
presence of the Sultan. At the same time the breaking of the old 
tradition was a mistake, and historians have traced the beginning of 
the decline of the Ottoman power to this very act. That the efficiency 
of the grilled window still holds I can personally guarantee, for it so 
chanced that as I sat in it one day looking down on the room below 
a guide entered with several tourists and immediately began to explain 
to them its history and purport. And as their eyes were all turned 
towards it they Httle guessed that it was occupied as of old, and 




[See p. 156] 


at that very moment playing the part for which it was originally 

It is impossible to get a proper idea of the Divan unless we know 
what went on while the Council was in session. As we have noted, 
it met regularly four times a week, on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, 
and Tuesday, but from early in the eighteenth century only on 
Tuesdays. The reception of ambassadors was usually confmed to 
Sundays or Tuesdays, on which occasions the ordinary business of 
the Court was reduced to a minimum. Moreover, a day was gener- 
ally chosen to coincide with the janissaries' pay-day, an extra cere- 
mony thus being provided to impress the foreigner. 

Many accounts have come down to us,^ and the sessions appear to 
have increased in length and ceremonial as time went on. In order 
to enable us to make comparison let us take the early seventeenth- 
century account of an ordinary session as given by the Venetian 
Bailo Ottaviano Bon, and contrast it with MeUing's description of the 
reception of a foreign ambassador at the end of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, just before the Divan fmally closed. 

In reading these accounts, especially that of Melling, it should be 
remembered that the Pubhc Divan was held in the building (No. 23) 
under — or, rather, closely adjoining — the Divan Tower (No. 22), 
while the audiences to which ambassadors were invited were held in 
the Arzodasi, usually called the Throne Room, or Chamber of Pre- 
sentation (No. 96), in the Third Court, just behind the Gate of 
FeHcity, or Bab-i-Saadet. But as some of the preliminary ceremonies 
preceding an audience took place in the Pubhc Divan and then 
others in front of the Gate of Felicity in the Second Court, it will be 

' The most detailed accounts are those of von Hammer, Staatsverwaltung (Vienna, 
1815), pp. 412-436; d'Ohsson, Tableau general, vol. ii, pp. 211-232; and Melh^g, Voyage 
pittoresque. No. 9 in the volume of text. No. 13 in the volume of plates ; while for the six- 
teenth century only we can turn to J. W. Zinkeisen, Geschichte des osmattischen Reiches in 
Europa (Hamburg and Gotha, 1840-63), vol. iii, pp. 1 17-125. Many of the Venetian 
Bailos have left interesting accounts. See, for example, B. Navagero (1553), Trevisano 
(1554), and C. Garzoni (1573) — all in E. Alberi, Relazione, third series (3 vols.), Florence, 
1840-63. Among many other contemporary accounts are G. A. Menavino, Trattato 
(Florence, 1584), p. 169; G. Postel, De la Repuhlique des Turcs (Poitiers, 1560), p. 122; 
and Tavemier, New Relation, pp. 29-34. In English we have R. Knolles, Generall Historie, 
(London, 1603), p. 833 ; E. Barton, in Rosedale, Queen Elizabeth and the Levant Company, 
pp. 12-16; Bon, in Withers, Grand Signors Seraglio, pp. 18-36; and EvUya Efendi, 
Narrative of Travels, 1, pp. 105-106. 



understood that the whole ceremony involves both courts. For many 
years the Sultan never appeared in the Pubhc Divan, only occasion- 
ally hiding himself in the oriel window, into which he crept to see 
how things were going, and to have a look at the ambassador with- 
out being seen himself. 

A description of the Gate of Felicity and the quarters of the white 
eunuchs on either side will be given later in this chapter. 

Both Bon's description and Melling's are important as being in all 
probabihty given from first-hand knowledge. 

That part of Bon's account dealing with the Pubhc Divan is as 
follows : 

The chamber called the Pubhc Divan is an apartment built not 
many years ago, and is a square room about eight paces each side with 
a serving room leading off, and with another room situated in a comer 
on the right of the entrance, merely separated from the Divan by the 
antce which give ingress to it. Not far from this door are two small 
wooden houses for the residence of the ministers, besides another a 
little farther off intended for business transactions. In this Divan, 
named, as already stated, Pubhc because all kinds of people may con- 
gregate there pubHcly and indiscriminately to demand justice for the 
setdement of actions and lawsuits of whatever sort and kind, they 
assemble four days of their week, which fmishes on Friday, that being 
their festival day : the assembly days are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, 
and Tuesday. 

[The members of the Divan are as follows :] the Grand Vizir and 
the other Pasha Vizirs ; the two cadt leschieri [Kaziaskers] of Greece and 
NatoHa, who are the heads of all the cadi of these two provinces (the 
cadt being men who profess the law and who govern by special grant 
as rulers in all the places and cities of the Emperor) ; the three Defter- 
dart, who resemble the Roman quaestors, whose duty it is to collect the 
Royal rents and pay out all the money to the miHtia and other salaried 
people of the Porte ; the Nisangt, who is the Grand Chancellor, and 
seals the orders and letters with the Royal seal; the secretaries of all 
the Pashas and other grandees, together with a vast number of notaries 
who always assist at the door of the Divan ; the Chiaus Pasha, who is 
the Chief of the Ushers, not to say commanders, with a good number 
of the said chiausi under his command. This man carries a silver staff 
in his hand, and the others are used to summon and lead the deputa- 
tions, as captains, as guards, and, in short, for any similar duties. 
Everybody assembles at daybreak. 

As soon as the Pashas have entered the chamber of the Divan they 



seat themselves one after the other on a bench attached to the wall to 
the right facing the entrance, such places being below that of the Grand 

To the left on the same bench sit the two cadt leschieri — first that of 
Greece as being the most noble and esteemed province, and then that 
of NatoHa. At the entrance to the right are seated the three Defterdari, 
who have behind them in the room mentioned above all the notaries, 
who sit on the ground, paper and pencil in hand, ready to write down 
what happens and whatever may be bidden them. Opposite these 
Defterdari — that is to say, in the other part of the room — upon a bench 
is seated the Nisangi Pasha, pen in hand, surrounded by his assistants, 
while in a body in the middle of the room stand those who are seeking 

Seated in this fashion, they start straight away with the assembled 
claimants, who being all without advocates and accustomed to handle 
their own cases personally, present themselves before the Grand Vizir, 
who, if he so wishes, can dispatch them all, because none of the other 
Pashas may speak, but wait to be interrogated by him or to be elected 
judges. This latter often happens, because after the Grand Vizir has 
grasped the essential part of the case he dissociates himself from it 
further; thus if it be a case of civil law he refers it to the cadi leschieri, 
if it be one connected with accounts to the Defterdari, if it be calumny, 
as often happens, to the Nisangt, and if it be commercial business about 
difficulties of probation to one of the other Pashas. In this way he 
frees himself of the cases one by one, reserving for himself exclusively 
only those which are of high and international importance. 

Everybody is occupied with these matters till midday, when the 
hour for dining arrives, at which time one of the stewards appointed 
for this service receives orders from the Grand Vizir to serve the food. 
Whereupon all the people are immediately dismissed from the room, 
in which, when all is clear, the tables are arranged in the following 
order : one is set in front of the Grand Vizir and one, or possibly two, 
other Pashas ; a similar arrangement is made for the other Pashas, who 
eat all together, and so also with the cadt leschieri, the Defterdari, and the 
Nisangt. Some of the servants then spread napkins over each person's 
knee to preserve his garments, and then bring them the meats, having 
handed to everybody a trencher [mezolere] with bread of all kinds — 
fresh and good in every case. The meats are brought in one by one 
and set down in the middle of the trencher in a large roomy dish, 
which they call a tapsi ; and when one is finished they remove it and 
bring in another — the usual fare being mutton, guinea-fowl, pigeons, 
goose, lamb, chickens, soup made of rice, and vegetables prepared in 
various ways, and an assortment of pastries as dessert, the whole being 



eaten with great alacrity. All the other ministers of the Divan dine in 
front of this table, and anything they may need is brought in from the 
kitchen. The Pashas and other grandees are only given something to 
drink once, and that is sherbet served in large porcelain bowls placed 
on plates of the same material or of leather decorated with gold. The 
others either do not drink at all, or if they are thirsty have water brought 
them from the fountains near by. At the same time that the Divan is 
dining all the other ministers and officers also take their meal; they 
number usually not less than five hundred mouths, and are only given 
bread and sorba — that is to say, soup. The repast being over, the Grand 
Vizir attends to pubhc business, consulting with the other Pashas on 
what seems to him fit and proper, giving judgment on the whole, and 
preparing it to be deUvered to the King, the usual custom being that 
out of the four days' Divan he goes in on two of them — Sundays and 
Tuesdays — to submit to his Majesty the report on all affairs dealt with, 
for which purpose the King grants audience. 

He too, having dined, passes from his apartments into the Audience 
Chamber [i.e., the Arzodasi, hterally Chamber of Presentation] 
within. After taking his seat he orders to be summoned in turn, by 
the Capigiler Chiaiasi [i.e., Kapijilar-Kiayasi, or Grand Chamberlain], 
who carries in his hand a long silver staff, first the cadi kschieri, who rise, 
and after bowing to the Grand Vizir advance — accompanied by the 
above-mentioned Capigiler and the Chiaus Pasha, who precede them 
with silver staffs in their hands — into the presence of the King, and 
render him an account of their offices to the extent required. 

After dismissal they depart and return straight to their homes. 
Next the Defterdari are summoned, and, observing the same ceremony, 
inform the King what business they have carried out and take their 
leave, making way for the Pashas, who come last in file one after the 
other. On reaching the King's presence in the Chamber, v^th their 
hands crossed and heads bent, all looking aUke, the Grand Vizir alone 
speaks and renders accounts as he sees fit, showing the petitions one by 
one ; then, replacing them in a crimson satin vaHse, he lays it with 
great deference beside the ICing. In the event of no questioning (the 
other Pashas keeping silent) they depart and mount their horses out- 
side the Second Gate previously mentioned, accompanied by their own 
followers and the rest, the most important first — and so they go to their 
own SerragH. And thus the Divan is concluded for that day, which 
might be about the hour of vespers.' 

Bon then continues with a description of what happens "when 
ambassadors from crowned heads go to kiss the Emperor's robe and 

' Pp. 64-67. 


the courtyard is crowded with Spahis, janissaries, and other troops, 
all richly attired, and forming a magnificent spectacle with their fine 
turbans, coloured plumes, and sparkling jewels. 

But by way of contrast let us see how Melling describes the scene 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After telling us how the 
Ambassador is conducted with due ceremony to the Ortakapi, or 
Central Gate, in the Second Court of the Seragho, and explaining the 
significance of the janissaries' meal o£ pilaf, he gives a short account 
of the preHminary ceremonies. 

As soon as the Ambassador's presence is reported to the Grand 
Vizir the written request for an audience is conveyed to the Sultan 
with much ceremony. When the reply is received by the Grand 
Vizir he puts it to his mouth and forehead, breaks the seal, reads the 
reply, and puts the document in his breast. The Ambassador then 
dines in state. 

Melling thus describes the reception which follows : 

The Ambassador, accompanied by the chief interpreter and ushers 
of the Porte, and followed by his cortege, is then led in the court under 
a gallery built between the Chamber of the Divan and the Gate of the 
Throne, Bab-el-Saadet. There the Grand Master of Ceremonies 
clothes him in a sable robe. The chief members of the cortege are 
given robes Hned with ermine, ofkereke and caffetan, being garments of 
the second order. Meanwhile the Grand Vizir has moved from the 
Chamber of the Divan to the Throne Room. Soon after the Ambas- 
sador is led to it with twelve or fifteen of the chief members of the 
Embassy ; each person is assisted by two Capidgi-Bachi, chamberlains. 
Pages and white eunuchs are drawn up in ranks on both sides of the 
gallery which leads to the Throne Room. The grandeur of this room 
far from equals the importance of the ceremonies that are enacted in 
it; nevertheless it is sufficient, seeing that etiquette only allows very 
few people to approach his Highness's throne. It is placed along one 
side of the room : Oriental luxury has exhausted all its arts to make 
this throne more magnificent. 

It looks like a bed of antique design ; gold and fine pearls enhance 
the splendour of the rich drapery with which it is covered ; its columns 
are silver gilt. The Grand Seigneur takes his position there clad in a 
ceremonial robe that recalls the ancient cosmme of the Tartars ; his 
turban is surmounted by an egret enriched with diamonds ; he wears 
yellow boots, his feet being supported on a step. The Grand Vizir and 
Admiral-in-Chief occupy a position to the right of the throne ; to the 



left are the Chief Black Eunuch and Chief White Eunuch. All remain 
standing, including the Ambassador, who approaching the throne 
makes his address to his Highness. His words are repeated in the 
Turkish language by the Chief Interpreter of the Porte, after which the 
Grand Vizir, in the name of the Grand Seigneur, makes a reply which 
the Interpreter translates to the Ambassador. He then takes the 
credentials from his secretary's hands ; he gives them to the Mir-Alem 
(Chief of the Standard, Commander of the Chamberlains), who passes 
them on to the High Admiral. This officer presents them to the Grand 
Vizir, who places them on the throne. The audience immediately 
comes to an end and the Ambassador retires with his suite. On regain- 
ing the First Court he mounts his horse, as does also his cortege ; and, 
lined up on one of the sides, they watch the janissaries and the 
entire Ottoman Court march off. Immediately after the Ambassador 
begins his march back to his palace in Pera in the same order that he 

Looking at Melling's drawing, we notice that the banquet in the 
Divan is being furnished not from the main kitchens on the right 
side of the court, but from the Sultan*s private kitchen, or from one 
specially built for the Divan, on the left. Although the main kitchens 
were more than sufficient to provide enormous meals, many of the 
Sultans preferred to have their own private kitchens near at hand. 
Consequently it is not surprising to find others in different parts of 
the Seraglio. There is one near the main door of the harem (next 
No. 40 in the plan), and this one on the left of the Second Court was 
probably built at a Sultan's whim. This kitchen, however, occupied 
only a small part of the long building on the left, the greater portion 
being used as a dwelling-place by officers attached to the high State 

Immediately adjoining the Divan is the I^hazine, or Inner Treasury, 
now the Silah Miizesi, or Arms Museum. It is one of the oldest 
portions of the whole SeragHo, and is said to have been built by 
Muhammad II. Its eight domes, resting on three large square central 
pillars, and typical late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century vaulting, 
at once proclaim it to be original work. Certain slight alterations 
have occurred since it housed the arms, particularly in the far comer 
by the chief entrance to the harem, but apart from this there has prob- 
ably been little change. Here was stored the money needed for use 
in the Hall of the Divan, including that paid out to the janissaries. It 



was the provincial revenue, delivered in sacks and stored in the vaults 
beneath. According to Bon the Royal wardrobe was also stored 
somewhere here. He describes it and the Treasury as if they were 
side by side : 

They are two most noble buildings, which have separate rooms on 
the ground floor and in the vaults, large enough for the many com- 
modities they contain, and exceedingly safe, with very thick waUs. 
They have small windows that are aU barred, and only one door to 
each made of the strongest iron, which is always kept bolted, that of 
the Casna [Treasury] being also sealed with the Royal seal.^ 

Before we discuss the kitchens on the right-hand side of the court 
there still remain several buildings on the left between the Inner 
Wall and the Divan. 

Immediately to the left of the Ortakapi in the far comer is a small 
unpretentious gate now blocked up. It is the Meyyit Kapi, or Gate 
of the Dead, through which all bodies of the Palace personnel made 
their fmal exit — except, of course, those which found a less dignified 
end in the Marmora or the Bosphorus. A similar connecting gate 
pierced the other wall, and thus the bodies were conducted outside 
the Seragho walls. Quite close to here is all that remains of a 
mosque and bath built by Be§ir Aga, one of the most famous Chief 
Eunuchs, who died in 1746. There are several other buildings in 
Istanbul erected by him. The remainder of this large area which 
occupies the lower slope of the hill is devoted to the stables and the 
quarters of the halberdiers. 

The stables are now in a state of ruin, but were once fine buildings, 
with rooms on the first floor containing a collection of valuable trap- 
pings. They were, however, only the Privy Stables, in which some 
twenty-five or thirty horses were kept for the Sultan's personal use. 

The Great Stables were outside the Seragho buildings near the 
seashore, as we have already seen in an earher chapter. Bon inspected 
the Privy Stables personally, and tells us that the caparisons are 
extraordinarily rich and handsome, 

since there are saddles, bridles, pectorals, and cruppers set with jewels 
of every kind with much taste and cunning and in large numbers ; 

» P. 60. 


and they amaze every one who sees them because they surpass the 
bounds of imagination.^ 

Tavemier is equally enthusiastic in his description. ^ 

We now come to the quarters of the halberdiers, built after the 
fire of 1574, and consisting of a unit complete in itself, with courtyard, 
mosque, dormitory, coffee-room, baths, etc. 

The halberdiers formed a corps of servants of the Outer Service 
of the Seragho, but their duties brought them into close contact with 
both the seldmlik and the harem, since they were responsible for much 
of the manual labour of the Palace, such as wood-cutting and general 
portage. They also served as a kind of bodyguard to members of 
the harem when changing quarters, etc., and on these occasions were 
armed with halberds ; hence their name. A large number of these 
weapons can be seen in the Arms Museum, mentioned above. 
Their Turkish name was baltajiler, and the corps was divided into 
two sections : those who served the selamlik and those whose duties 
were confined to the harem. The former baltajilers were called 
yakali ('possessing collars') s^dyakasiz ('without collars'), according 
to which sub-section they belonged. Those coimected with the 
harem bore the curious name of Ziiliifli Baltajilers, from ziiliif, a curl 
or tress, because two false curls hung down from their tall hats, in 
order to hinder them from viewing the women when taking the 
monthly supply of wood into the harem. Similar 'chastity curls' 
were worn by the Sword-bearer (Kiligdar or Silihdar), and the Chief 
Musician, and several other members of the Seragho. If von Ham- 
mer is correct, at one time the Zulufli Baltajilers were white eunuchs, 
but if so the curls would seem to be an uimecessary appendage.^ 

The quarters of the halberdiers are entered by a small gate only a 
few paces away from the door next to the Divan Tower leading to 
the black eunuchs' courtyard. A long flight of steps runs down to 
the lower terrace on which the entire quarters are built. They lead 
directly to a narrow courtyard, knowoi as the Court of the Fountain. 
To the right is a square room originally used as a mosque, while 
farther down are the baths and latrines. To the left are seven square 

» p. 62. * New Relation, pp. 28-29. 

» For a further account see d'Ohsson, Tableau general, vol. iii, p. 294, with the engraving 
No. 152. 

1 10 


narrow wooden pillars supporting the bedrooms or sitting-rooms of 
the officers of the corps. Parallel to these pillars, but more to the left, 
Hes a large dormitory with a gallery, running completely round the 
room and supported by nine wooden pillars at the sides and three 
each end, counting the corner pillars twice. The side of the ground 
floor nearest the court is tiled ; the colouring is still bright, and the 
designs are charming. To reach the gallery above it is necessary to 
go outside and ascend the staircase to a point where an archway leads 
to other stairs to the left. The gallery is most interesting, the wood- 
work being brightly painted in red, and many of the lockers for 
bedding still in situ. A huge dark ball hangs from the centre of the 

As we return to the Court of the Fountain a small room will be 
noticed at the end on the left. It apparently served as the coffee- 
room, and is lined with low divans. Immediately beyond are a few 
steps leading to the general mess-room of the halberdiers. It is a 
square, lofty apartment, surrounded on three sides by low wooden 
sofas composed of lockers, while on the wall opposite the door are 
some thirty long narrow lockers in which, I suggest, the halberds 
were stored. Dr Miller thinks they were used for the nargilehs, or 
Persian water-pipes. But the lockers are quite three times too long 
for such a use, besides which I doubt very much if servants of the 
standing of the halberdiers would own such an expensive variety of 
pipe. Anyway, they could easily fit in the lower lockers. In the 
centre of the room is a large rectangular brazier with an inner ledge 
used for coffee-pots. Owing to the small windows and the trees 
outside there was little Hght in the room although the sun was 
shining brightly. I was therefore unable to take a good photograph, 
but as I understand this curious little room has never been ' taken ' 
before I have ventured to reproduce my effort (opposite p. 112). 

Returning once again to the courtyard and walking to the extreme 
end, one notices a staircase which leads to two rooms over the baths. 
As far as I could ascertain, they belonged to the captains of the corps. 
They are in such a bad state of repair that it is dangerous to venture 

A broad terrace supporting an abundance of shrubs and trees, 
among which the fig-tree is especially noticeable, abuts on to the 



end of the dormitory nearest the main stairway. It forms the upper 
part of what was once the courtyard of the stables. 

There remain only the kitchens to be described. As can be seen 
from the plan, they occupy the entire right-hand side of the Second 
Court. They therefore form by far the largest separate unit in the 
whole of the Seragho. Rebuilt with thick massive walls by Sinan 
after the great fire of 1574, they occupy the same site as in the original 
palace of Muhammad II. Certain minor alterations have been made 
in the course of the centuries, and many of the dependent buildings 
are in ruins; but the kitchens themselves have been saved by the 
soHdity of the walls— just as in other parts of Istanbul it was the thick 
walls of the baths that withstood fires and earthquakes — and must be 
one of the most remarkable specimens of sixteenth-century domestic 
architecture in existence. 

The whole quarters not only consist of ten large double kitchens 
arranged in line one after the other overlooking the Marmora, but 
include suites of rooms for the chief kitchen functionaries, two 
mosques, baths, and storerooms, offices, and pantries, and quarters 
for the cooks, food porters, confectioners, sculHons, wood-cutters, 
ice-collectors, water-carriers, etc. There are also the remains of 
a school of cookery, musicians' rooms, a tinning shop, ablution 
fountains, and dormitories. Many smaller rooms, the use of which 
has been forgotten, were very possibly used as divans or coffee-rooms 
for the various sections of the kitchen community, which, according 
to several old writers, were all separate and distinct. Thus each 
section would have its own coffee-room — purveyors of meat never 
sitting down with, say, the tinners or confectioners. The arrange- 
ment of all these rooms, however, was quite simple owing to the 
presence of a long corridor running the entire length of the buildings 
parallel to the columns in the courtyard, to which access was gained 
by three separate entrances. 

The side nearest the courtyard was occupied by all the suites and 
offices of the several sections of the kitchen staff, while the Marmora 
side, being over twice as broad, supported the massive kitchens, the 
two mosques, and also the quarters of the food porters in the extreme 
comer near the waterworks. 

It is difficult — and really of httle importance — to state with any 





degree of accuracy how the kitchens were allocated at different times. 
This is due to the fact that as soon as one author makes a Hst all 
subsequent writers copy it, either because they have no opportunity 
of checking it, or because of the sense of authoritative confidence 
that such a list seems to inspire. Thus it is accepted without question. 
Who made the original list I cannot say, but our old friend Bon 
certainly seems to be a likely recipient for the honour. His hst 
(1604-7) was copied exactly, not only by Baudier and Withers, but 
by Louis Des Hayes,' and by Tournefort^ in about 1700, and appears 
unaltered in Grosvenor,^ and subsequently in Murray's Handbook. 
The allocation given in these lists is as follows : 

(i) The Sultan. 

(2) The Sultan Valide, sometimes called the Queen. 

(3) The Sultanas, meaning the kadins. 

(4) The Kapi Agha. 

(5) Members of the Divan. 

(6) The I^-oghlans, or Sultan's pages. 

(7) Humbler members of the Seragho. 

(8) The other women. 

(9) The less important members of the Divan. 

Nobody seemed certain about the tenth kitchen; it was quite 
possibly used for the kitchen staff itself; but at a later period it was 
allocated to the confectioners. Occasionally we do get variants in 
the lists in those rare cases of original inquiry. 

Thus Tavemier, while noting the nine kitchens, tells us that now 
(c. 1664) the number in actual use has been reduced to seven. The 
change of allocation or reduction of the number in use was merely 
due to special circumstances, such as the wish of the Sultan or kadins 
to have their kitchens nearer the harem, or to the fact that there was 
no Sultan Valide ahve at the time. An unusual and temporary effort 
to economize might cause the closing of some of the kitchens. Altera- 
tions have doubtless been made from time to time in the construction 
of the roofs, chimneys, and cupolas. To-day each kitchen is divided 
into two parts, the inner of which contained the fire on a low stone 

' Voiage de Levant (Paris, 1624). 

2 Voyage into the Levant, vol. ii, p. 184. ^ Constantinople. 

H 113 


hearth in the centre of the room, the smoke passing up to a dome 
pierced by a long chimney. The outer part, or that nearest the kitchen 
corridor, is surmounted by a polygonal dome with a pierced centre, 
which can also serve as a chimney, but there is no chimney-stack. 
Hence, when viewing the Seragho from the Marmora we see only a 
single line often tall chimneys. It appears that alterations have been 
made in the chimneys and domes, and it is not at all clear if both 
varieties of chimney were always used as such, or whether possibly 
one served as a means of ventilation. In 1700 Tournefort writes : 

The Offices and Kitchens are on the right, embeUish'd with Domes, 
but without Chimneys; they kindle a Fire in the middle, and the 
Smoke goes out through the Holes made in the Domes. ' 

In Melling's engraving there is clearly only a single line of chim- 
neys in the form of round domes, while in that of d'Ohsson, pub- 
lished only a dozen years earher, there is a double line of chimneys 
polygonal in shape, and at one point there are three rows. As both 
men were reHable observers it would seem clear that alterations were 
continually being made. Writing in 155 1, Nicolay says there are 
150 cooks, of which those who dress the Sultan's food are the most 
important : 

those of the privy kitchens have their furnaces apart, to dress and 
make ready the meat without smell of smoke, which, being sodden 
and dressed, they lay in platters of porcelain, and so dehver it unto 
the Cecigners, whom we do call carvers, to serve the same unto the 
great lord, the taste being made in his presence. 

Several years earUer (1534) Ramberti gives the following list of the 
kitchen personnel : 

The Ashji-bashi, or chief cook, with fifty cooks under him. He has 
forty aspers per day, the cooks under him four, six, or eight aspers each. 

The Helvaji-bashi, or chief confectioner, with forty aspers, and he 
has thirty companions with five to six aspers per day each. 

The Chasnijir-bashi [the Chief Taster], chief of the cupboards, with 
eighty aspers : morning and evening he brings with his own hand the 
dish of the Signer, and he has under him a hundred Chasnijirs with 
from three to seventy [seven (?)] aspers each. 

The Mutbakh-emini [Steward of the Kitchen] with forty aspers. 
He has a secretary with twenty aspers a day. 

' Voyage into the Levant, vol. ii, p. 184. 


A hundred Ajem-oghlans, who transport on carts the wood of the 
palace. They have three to five aspers, and are provided with clothing. 
Ten Sakkas, who carry water on horse-back in leather sacks, with 
three to five aspers each.'' 

Bon gives much interesting information about the food supplies 
in general : 

From Egypt come large quantities of dates, plums, and prunes, all 
of which are placed in the care of the servers and cooks, being used in 
the cooking — both roast and boiled. The honeys which are consumed 
by the Porte in enormous amounts, because they are used in all food 
as well as in the sherbets for the poorer folk, come from Walachia, 
Transylvania, and Moldavia [Rumania and part of Hungary] ; as well 
as presents made to the King by the Vaivodes [Moldavian Dukes]. 
But for the King's kitchen a stock is laid in from Candia which is of 
greater purity and dehcacy. The oil, of which they use a large amount, 
comes from Corone and Modone ^ in Greece, the Sanjak Bey being 
obHged to provide as much as is required by the Seragho ; but for the 
King's kitchen that from Candia is supphed, being odourless. 

The butter, of which a lot is consumed, comes by way of the Black 
Sea from Moldavia, and from Tana and CafFa [near the Sea of Azov], 
and is sent packed in enormous ox-hides. It is stored in warehouses, 
and when there is an abundant supply it is sold in the city to the great 
advantage of the Porte ; Htde fresh butter is eaten, because the Turks 
do not care for dairy produce. 

As regards meat, each year in the autumn the Grand Pasha orders 
the Pastromani [meat beaten out flat] for the Royal kitchens, and it 
must be from cows in calf, because their flesh is more savoury and 
salted. It is kept dried, made into sausages and hash, and preserved in 
barrels for the whole year, being used not only in the Seragho, but in 
every house. However, the Pasha controls these operations, for which 
as a rule four hundred cows are used. 

The remainder of the meat consumed daily in the Seragho is : 

Young mutton 
Lambs or kids when in season 
Veal for the eunuchs 
Young geese (pairs) 

Guinea-fowl ^pairs) 
Poultry (pairs) 
Pigeons (pairs) 




■ Lybyer, Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent, 
pp. 245-246. 

* Both in the province of Messenia, in the Peloponnesus. They were annexed to 
Turkey by Bayczid II in 1502. 



Fish is not usually eaten, but if the Agalari want it every kind is 
available, since these seas are well stocked, and fishing can be easily 
done from the private houses. 

Fruits are not lacking for the King and all in the Seraglio, because 
they receive great quantities as presents, and the Royal gardens, of 
which there are many in the vicinity, provide every day large baskets 
of the best and fmest that can be gathered, the Bustangibassi [Bostanji- 
hashi, Head Gardener] being obhged to take what is left over for sale in 
a place apart where only the King's fruit is sold, the profits from the 
sale being deHvered weekly to the King's Bustangibassi, who then hands 
them to his Majesty. This is known as his pocket money, and he gives 
it away without counting it to his mutes and buffoons. 

The kitchen utensils are a sight to see, because the pots, cauldrons, 
and other necessary things are so huge and nearly all of copper that of 
things of this kind it would be impossible to see any more beautiful or 
better kept. The service of dishes is of copper tinned over, and kept in 
such continual good repair and so spotless that it is an amazing sight 
to behold. There is an enormous quantity of them, and they are a 
very considerable expense to the Porte, and especially because the 
kitchens provide food for so many both within and without, particu- 
larly on the four days of the Pubhc Divan,^ so that the number stolen 
is a thing to marvel at. 

The Defterdars wanted to have them made of silver so as to hand 
them over to the Treasurer, but owing to the great cost the idea came 
to nothing. The wood consumed in the kitchens amounts to countless 
pesi (so it is sold in Constantinople), and a peso is 40 pounds gross 
weight. I will but say that thirty large caramussali [Turkish merchant- 
men] in the service of the Porte sail the Greater [Black] Sea to the 
King's forests to procure it. And this they do at httle cost to the 
Treasury, because those who cut down and load the wood are slaves.^ 

There is no lack of material dealing with the preparation and 
serving of Turkish food — with the making ofpi/^and similar national 
dishes, the different varieties of sherbets, the innumerable sugary 
confections so dear to the Ottoman palate — but, after all, this is not 
a gastronomical work, so I will merely refer readers to Tavemier, 
who has much to say on the subject, and to White's Three Years in 
Constantinople,^ for more modem recipes. 

Evliya Efendi'^ gives a most interesting account of how the 

' On Divan days an extra four or five thousand would be fed, in addition to the usual 
thousand or more. ^ Pp. 97-98. ^ Vol. iii, pp. 81-97. 

* Narrative of Travels (London, 1834), vol. ii, pp. 156-157. 



Seraglio is supplied with the enormous quantities of ice required. 
He tells us of the great ice-pits where snow is stored, and how on days 
of procession the snowmen wear turbans made entirely of frozen 
snow, and drag on wagons loads of snow of the size of a cupola, and 
that there are also from seventy to eighty files of mules loaded with 
the purest snow from Mount Olympus. He also speaks of the fish- 
cooks, sugar-bakers, confectioners, and divers conserves of almonds, 
pistachios, ginger, hazel-nuts, orange-peel, aloes, coffee, etc. 

The only Turkish sweetmeat, however, known throughout the 
world is, of course, Turkish delight. No less than some 750 tons are 
exported annually. It consists of the pulp of white grapes or mul- 
berries, semolina flour, honey, rose-water, and apricot kernels. It 
rejoices in the attractive Turkish name of Rahat Lokutn (' giving rest 
to the throat'). 

As we have already seen, the entrance from the Second into the 
Third Court is through the Gate of Fehcity, or Bah-i-Sa'adet, behind 
and to the right and left of w^hich are the quarters of the white 
eunuchs, formerly occupied by the Great and Little Halls of the 
Palace School. 

I shall discuss the Gate of Felicity first. It has other names, derived 
either from the proximity of the eunuchs' quarters or from the fact 
that the gate led into the private apartments of the Sultan. Thus it is 
known as Akagalar Kapisi, the Gate of the White Eunuchs ; while 
Bon (1604-7) knew of it as the King's Gate and the Royal Gate. 

The date of its erection is unknown, but in spite of its thorough 
restoration in 1774-75 there is every sign of its being early sixteenth 
century at the latest, with the general style — a double gate sur- 
mounted by a heavily ornamented canopy and flanked by marble 
columns on each side — preserved throughout. Flachat^ (1740-55) 
describes the gate as having a fine portico flanked by sixteen columns 
of porphyry or verd-antique, the vaulted roof of the canopy which 
supports it being gilded at the base and decorated with leaves and 
flowers in relief. The facade of the gate itself was enriched by large 
panels of polished marbles matching the piUars, but these have un- 
fortunately been replaced with modem mural paintings just as bad 
' Observations sur le commerce, vol. ii, p. 174. 


as those on the inner side of the Ortakapi. The portico is supported 
by six columns, of which only the front four are free. Six more 
columns support the colonnade each side, making a total of eighteen. 
So far this was the most private and respected part of the Seraglio. 
It was here that the personal part of the Palace began ; at this gate 
each new Sultan was announced ; its threshold was kissed by any- 
one entering. Through its gates the bodies of the highest officials 
have been thrown to the surging mass of angry janissaries who have 
thundered at its closed portals. The bodies of dead Sultans have 
been borne hence in times of sedition and revolution. But without 
giving details of the grim scenes in which the Gate of Felicity has 
played a leading part it will suffice to say that it was always regarded 
as the closed gate, sacred to majesty, beyond which nothing was 
officially known. That it led directly to the Arzodasi, or Throne 
Room, was the hmit of public knowledge. Thus Bon tells us in his 
account that it gives entry into that part of the Seragho reserved 
solely for the Royal household and the slaves who serve it. "And 
nobody may enter," he continues, 

by this gate save at the pleasure of the Emperor (speaking of persons 
of consequence), but other members of the service, such as doctors 
or those who look after the pantry and kitchen, may enter there by 
permission of the Kapi Aga, who is the chief major-domo to whom 
the supervision of these people is entrusted. He is always at hand, 
since his rooms are close by with his Aga eunuchs like himself. And 
everything is secret to this extent, that whatever is intimated of what 
goes on beyond this gate is for the most part mere inference, because 
either nothing can be seen at all or, if any trifling thing can be seen, it 
is on those occasions when the King is absent, and one is introduced 
by some favourite through the Sea Gates. ^ 

According to Bassano da Zara the guard consisted of thirty eunuchs, 
while other sixteenth-century accounts state that this was the number 
only on Divan days, while ordinarily it was twenty or twenty-five. 
The quarters of the white etmuchs were situated in such a position as 
to command a view of both the Second and Third Courts. The suite 
of the Kapi Agha {Kapiagasi Dairesi), Chief of the White Eunuchs, 
lay to the right, while the quarters of the rest lay to the left. To-day 

' P. 63. 


it is dijfFicult to form any idea of the suite to the right, as the rooms 
have now been turned into electrical and fitting workshops. All that 
I can say is that after passing through a small courtyard one reaches a 
long passage with three rooms to the left. There is a fountain and 
washing-room at the far end on the right, close to the confectioners' 
mosque. All rooms are necessarily oblong in shape; all signs of 
decorations have long since disappeared. 

With the general quarters to the left of the gate I was much more 
lucky, for not only were they in good condition, but they were fully 
occupied by some of the present museum staff, who at the time of 
my first visit were sleeping, studying, making coffee, etc. — in fact, 
behaving exactly as the white eimuchs did. On passing through the 
small courtyard, corresponding to that in the Chief Eunuch's suite, 
I encountered a very irate dwarf, who rushed out at me wildly, 
gesticulating and shouting, doing aU in his power to prevent me 
from entering. My credentials, however, were too strong for him, 
and he sulkily went away, leaving me in possession. I passed first of 
all into a large room resembling somewhat that of the halberdiers, 
only smaller. A broad balcony runs round the room, and served as a 
dormitory for the guards. Mats were spread out or rolled neatly away 
in all parts of it, several of the former being occupied by men fast 
asleep. On the ground floor several partitions have been made, 
while in the far right-hand corner is a raised chamber, used apparently 
by the eunuchs of higher rank. 

Passing on, one comes to the general dining-room, and at the time 
of my visit food was being cooked in a large brazier that occupied 
the centre of the room. On the far left-hand side several men were 
squatting before ablution fountains which extended in a line against 
the wall on the Second Court side. There is also a small third room 
which was used as a storeroom. 

The duties of the white eunuchs in the Seragho were chiefly con- 
cerned with the five chambers of pages, which formed such an 
important part of the Inner Service of the Palace. Just as it was the 
duty of the black eunuchs to control all matters connected with 
the harem, so it was the duty of the white eunuchs to look after the 
selamlik and its numerous activities. Since ordinary servants were not 
allowed past the Gate of Felicity the duties of the white eunuchs and 



Royal pages were really divided between education in the Palace 
School and personal service to the Sultan as members of the Royal 

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there appear to have 
been four head eunuchs, v^hile a fifth was added subsequently. 

These were the Kapi Agha, the Hazinedar-bashi, the Kilerji-bashi, 
and the Serai Agha, the fifth being the Has Oda-bashiJ The position 
of the Chief White Eunuch {Kapi Agha) was of the highest, and until 
the rise of the black eunuchs he reigned supreme. But even then he 
ranked equally with the Kislar Agha, although some of his privileges 
had been transferred to his black rival. 

First and foremost, the Kapi Agha was head of the Inner Service, 
which naturally meant that he was the personal confidant of the 
Sultan and the head of the Palace School. He was also Gatekeeper-in- 
Chief, head of the infirmary, and general master of ceremonies of the 
Seragho. In former days he controlled all messages, petitions, and 
State documents addressed to the Sultan, and alone was allowed to 
speak to the King in person. Many of these privileges were largely 
transferred to the Chief Black Eunuch, as we shall see in a later chapter. 
The dress of the Kapi Agha consisted of a loosely fitting pehsse of 
brocade or velvet edged with rich furs, with long hanging sleeves. 
Underneath was a shorter garment of the same material. A belt, 
yellow shoes, linen or silk drawers, and a white sugar-loaf turban 
completed the costume. 

The next in command, the Hazinedar-bashi, had charge of the 
Treasury, and was head of the corps of pages attached to the Hazine 
Oda, or Chamber of the Treasury, which formed the second chamber 
of the pages. He was responsible for all the Royal treasures, and made 
all the Inner Service payments, and kept detailed accounts of every- 
thing paid out. 

The third officer, the Kilerji-bashi, supervised the Sultan's food and 
controlled the whole of the kitchen staff. 

On the fourth, the Serai Agha, devolved charge of the Ser- 
aglio in the Sultan's absence. He was also assistant director of 

' See vol. iii, pp. 176 et seq., of the Turkey volumes of Shoberl's World in Miniature 
(London, 1822). It is translated from the French edition of Castellan. The coloured 
plates are charming. 



the Palace School and head of the Seferli Oda, or Chamber of 

In direct personal touch with the Sultan were the selected members 
of the Has Oda, or Inner Chamber. In Suleiman's time the head of 
this chamber was the chief page, but as the position grew in import- 
ance and duties increased it was entrusted to a white eunuch, known 
as the Has Oda-bashi. Apart from his duties to the Sultan's personal 
wants, he was the depositary of one of the three Imperial seals set in a 
ring, with which he used to seal the most precious objects kept in the 
Royal apartments, such as the phials of sacred water into which the 
comer of the Prophet's robe had been dipped. He also had charge 
of the robes of honour given to foreign ambassadors and other people 
of distinction. 

The rest of the white eunuchs acted as assistants to the above 
officers in one capacity or another. The infirmary was entirely run 
by them, and they acted as litter-bearers, as well as managing the 
arrangements of the wards and the Commissariat. 

As regards the supply of white eunuchs, plenty of opportunities 
offered themselves when the Ottoman power was at its height, and 
Hungarian, Slavonian, and German prisoners of both sexes were 
pouring into the capital. The number of white eunuchs made at this 
time, however, seems to have been very small, more care being 
taken to recruit the Turkish legions with men capable of bearing 
arms. Owing to the fact that castration was forbidden in the 
Koran, it is usually stated that the operation was performed outside 
Constantinople, and the newly made castrato was then sent into the 
Seraglio to be taught his duties. 

From the early seventeenth-century description by Bon it would 
seem that in some cases the operation was performed in the Seragho 
itself. Thus we read : 

All are castrated and cut clean, and they choose some of the renegade 
boys, who are given as presents to the King, as I have said, but are 
rarely castrated against their will, because the Master of Ceremonies 
says that they would incur great danger of death. Although aware of 
this, the youths are tempted by the certainty of becoming in time men 
of great consequence if they live ; and, castrated as they are, they are 
educated with the rest, and are taken away in due course from the 



fourth oda into the King's service, as happens to the others who are 
not castrated.^ 

Another supply of slaves was procured from Armenia, Georgia, 
and Circassia — first by right of conquest, and subsequently by peace- 
ful negotiations, particularly in the case of Circassia, a traffic which 
had been quite unknown in the case of the transportation of negroes. 
The cargoes were mixed, and it was not long before the beauty of the 
Georgian women became proverbial, and a thriving trade soon sprang 
into being, the merchandise being shipped in boats across the 
treacherous Black Sea. When the Georgian supply was temporarily 
checked by the Russian advance that from Caucasia increased, and 
small boats packed with men and women for the markets of the 
Levant made their way to Trebizond, which now became the entrepot. 

As far as the Circassian women were concerned, they often went 
entirely of their own free will, being anxious to exchange a peasant 
Hfe for the gamble of becoming a Pasha's wife, or maybe even 
the concubine of the Sultan himself. But as regards the men, the 
number that became eunuchs was still small, the reason being that 
whereas any amount of black eunuchs could be used to look after 
the harem the number required to keep the Court pages in order was 

After the Circassian slave-dealers had been driven from their 
country in 1864 they merely carried their nefarious trade nearer 
Constantinople, in Rumelia, and on the Asiatic coast at Brusa. When 
a white eunuch was required he would be found and duly delivered, 
but by far the greater trade was in women, not only to supply the 
slave markets, but to provide material for enthusiastic amateurs, who 
after carefully training the girls would sell them later to advantage. 

In spite of all efforts to stop the slave trade, and the actual passing 
of a decree by the Turkish Government itself aboHshing slavery 
among the Circassians, the trade continued unabated as before, only 
not quite so openly. It was only some terrific national upheaval, 
coupled with lessening of the demand, that could end a system that 
was part and parcel of the social and religious life of the community. 
Such an upheaval has occurred, and to-day a curious Turkey presents 
itself to us, a Turkey that is looking West perhaps, but a Turkey that 

' P. 89. 


has lost so much of its old charm and beauty. Unless the visitor to 
Constantinople of to-day is blessed with the all too rare faculty of 
seeing the half-hidden glories of what is perhaps the most marvellous 
city in the world he will merely be disgusted with the pathetic at- 
tempts to turn Pera into a modem city by a vulgar display of tawdry and 
garish Americanism that makes any thinking man or woman weep. 

Before passing on to a consideration of the black eunuchs I shall 
conclude this chapter with a brief architectural discussion dealing with 
the numerous styles of capitals to be found on pillars in different 
parts of the Seraglio, especially one in this Second Court, which I 
would call the lotus capital. It occurs not only here, but in many 
other places in the SeragHo — ^namely, the corridor of the black 
eunuchs, the courtyard and bedrooms of the harem slaves, the court- 
yard of the Sultan VaHde, the veranda of the Baghdad Kiosk, and 

It is at once recognized by the lotus-leaf mo^if which it displays in 
strong relief. The capital itself is clearly based on an early Byzantine 
pattern, and resembles somewhat those in the Bin Bir Direk, or 
Cistern of looi Columns, although here they assume a slightly convex 
shape by having their base angles rounded. In Sancta Sophia straight- 
edged capitals are found in the Western Gynaeceum (sometimes called 
the Visitors' Gallery), with branch chandeliers surmounting them.^ 
This shape must have appealed to the Turkish architect, for we find 
it copied to support the Tribune of the Sultan (Mafil-i-Humayun) and 
the mashata arcades which were built alongside the piers of the great 
dome on the northern flank. 

But apart from Byzantine buildings, this lotus capital is to be 
found in several mosques in different parts of Constantinople — e.g.^ 
Mirimah and Rustem Pasha, both built by the famous Sinan about 
1550. So too it occurs in mosques in Pera and Scutari.^ 

Another form of capital in the Seraglio is stalactitic or honeycomb 
in form, resembling some found in various parts of the Alhambra, at 
Granada. Examples will be found in the veranda surrounding the 

' See the illustration at p. 515 of Grosvenor's Constantinople. 

2 See Gurlitt, Die Baukunst Konstantinopels, text p. 63, abb. 125, and Plates G. 29b, 
G. 28i, G. 26c, and G. i^b. 



Arzodasi, or Audience Chamber, in the Third Court and also in the 
Sultan's bathroom. Several mosques, such as that of Rustem Pasha, 
can also show examples of this type of capital. 

A third, and somewhat modified, type can be seen in the portico 
of the Third Court. Except for the unnecessarily heavy echinus it 
reminds us again of similar work at the Alhambra. 

But are we entitled to call these capitals Turkish? As in so many 
other matters, the Turks copied the architecture of the countries 
they conquered. Thus in order to discover genuine Turkish art 
among so many borrowings it is necessary to go very warily. The 
Byzantine architects had both Corinthian and Ionic capitals as models 
before their eyes. But with the abandoning of the architrave an 
entirely new group of capitals had to be invented to support arched 
brick construction in such a way as to present a perfect harmonious 
whole with the column, capital, and arch. A visit to the ever-glorious 
Sancta Sophia will show how they have succeeded. 

At first no such thing as Turkish art existed, and both designs and 
material for building were taken from ruined Byzantine churches, 
private houses, baths, etc. Thus we find beautiful columns of por- 
phyry, syenite, verd-antique, granite, and other stones in the most 
unlikely places surmounted with capitals that never belonged to them. 
The modified Byzantine capital and arch became to a large extent 
the Turkish capital and arch — but not quite, because in the sixteenth 
century Sinan created a real national art. He not only was a builder 
of numerous mosques, hospitals, hbraries, and baths, but produced 
a great amount of humbler domestic work, such as wells, kitchens, 
cisterns, etc. Still, his art was but a hybrid, produced by a fusion of 
Syrian and Armenian designs brought to a definite existence by his 
own genius as Turkish art. Much of this we can see in the Seraglio, 
and still more in Constantinople, Adrianople, and Brusa. 

This is not the place, nor do I possess the knowledge, to discourse 
in any detail on the position Turkish art occupies when considered 
in relation to its forerunners both East and West. That it has a 
separate existence cannot be doubted, but it is no easy matter to 
gauge the debt to men like Anthemius and Isidorus, the architects 
of Sancta Sophia, and yet give full credit to an art that was sprung 
from Anatolian and Syrian soil. 




I. Their Quarters and their Duties 

As can be seen from a glance at the plan, the quarters of the black 
eunuchs (Nos. 32-37) lay behind the left-hand northern comer of 
the Second Court, having the Divan and the Treasury on one side 
and the apartments of the harem girls on the other. The Golden 
Road, emerging from the heart of the seldmlik, ended at the main 
harem door (No. 41), which led into the eunuchs' courtyard (No. 34). 
Another door (No. 40) communicated at this point directly with 
the Third Court, while at the opposite end (No. 30) access was 
gained to the Second Court by passing under the Divan Tower. 

It will thus be seen that these quarters occupied a central and 
commanding position, at once signifying the great responsibihty 
vested in the Kislar Agha and the subordinate eunuchs. 

The entrance from the Second Court is by a small, unpretentious 
door (shown in the plate opposite p. 1 10) similar to that on the left 
leading to the quarters of the halberdiers. It is known as the Carriage 
Gate {Araha Kapisi), because it was at this point that the ladies of the 
harem entered the vehicles (araba) that were to take them for excur- 
sions up the Bosphorus or visits to the Old Seragho, etc. As this 
little gate gave direct entrance to the courtyard through which the 
women passed on their way to the Second Court it was always 
heavily guarded. It leads immediately into a square, high, vaulted 
room, known to-day as DolapU Kubbe — ^Domed Anteroom with 
Cupboards (No. 31), as it is fitted with wall cupboards enclosed 
by large painted wooden doors. It has doubtless had many uses at 
different periods, but seems to have served the double purpose of 
anteroom and guard-room with sleeping accommodation, which 
was folded up in the cupboards during the day. The ladies would 
doubtless assemble in this room before being conducted into their 
waiting carriages outside. 



A door the same size as the Carriage Gate leads into an oblong 
chamber (No. 32) nearly double the size of the Dolapli Kuhbe. It is 
beautifully tiled in the form of floral panels surrounded by a deep 
frieze of Cufic writing. The room is really a kind of hall or ante- 
room, having no particular use in itself, but serving many purposes 
and giving access into many important places, as I shall show pre- 
sently. It is divided into two parts, the first of which is vaulted and 
very high, allowing a second Cufic frieze, parallel to the other one, 
to stretch some eighteen or twenty feet up across the complete 
breadth of the room. To the left is an ancient panelled wooden gate, 
with a large window above it, leading to a long, narrow alleyway 
that separates the harem from the quarters of the halberdiers, and ulti- 
mately leads into the garden surrounding the outer walls of the 
Seraglio through the Shawl Gate (No. 62). 

Immediately next this gate is another door leading into the 
eunuchs' mosque (No. 33), built after the great fire of 1665 and con- 
taining much fine faience work with interesting marble tablets record- 
ing gifts of various eunuchs towards the upkeep and beautifying of 
the rooms. There is a small anteroom to the mosque, and another 
door leads into the courtyard, which is, however, best entered from 
room No. 32, to which we now return. The second part of it is not 
vaulted, but has a flat ceiling tastefully decorated in f^ence and 
stucco. On the mosque side is a large marble mounting-block with 
steps either side. It was used by Sultans riding out to the sacred 
mosque at Eyyub. Near by is a marble octagonal fountain. On the 
opposite side is a double door leading to the staircase that gives 
entrance to the loge or window overlooking the Hall of the Divan. 
The stairs continue through the several floors into which the interior 
of the Divan Tower is divided. 

Next comes the open courtyard (No. 34), with a row often marble 
pillars on the left side. A wooden canopy, supported by slanting 
poles, stretches down the entire length of this side, protecting the 
windows and tiling from the extremes of the weather. Of the ten 
columns, which aU display the lotus-mo^i/ capital (see p. 123), the 
first six are free, and form a colonnade flanking the black eunuchs' 
dormitories, to which access is gained between the sixth and seventh 
columns. On entering this most interesting Httle enclosed corridor 





(No. 35), with its three stories of small rooms facing each other about 
eight feet only apart, one is at once impressed by the soHdity of the 
building and the atmosphere of monasterial austerity that pervades 
the place. If it suffered in the 1665 fire one imagines that restora- 
tion would have been easy and the damage comparatively trifling. 
Although this part of the eunuchs' quarters is usually described as 
the dormitories it included the Hving rooms as well. As far as I was 
able to ascertain, the ground-floor rooms were used as bed-sitting 
rooms by the elder eunuchs, except for a 'common room' on, the 
left, double the size of the others, and a coffee-making room on 
the extreme right. There are six rooms on the right and five on the 
left. At the end of the corridor is a typical Turkish fireplace sur- 
mounted by a pointed canopy of decorative tiles, while the wall 
behind was also completely tiled, but in this case with plain coloured 

Visitors are still shown the bastinado boards to which the feet 
were tied, and the noose into which the hands were put for similar 
chastisement. The first floor resembles an open balcony, and supports 
the second floor by short, stumpy octagonal pillars surmounted by 
the lotus motif 2S in the courtyard. The only actual windows on this 
floor are close to the fireplace. Here, apparently, the senior eunuchs 
slept, but whether the ground-floor rooms were additional or not 
used to sleep in at all I cannot say, as information on the point is 
uncertain and conflicting. The second floor has no balcony, and the 
small rooms were used by the young eunuchs. Although several 
would share a room the accommodation seems hardly sufficient for 
such a large number of eunuchs as were employed here. At the same 
time it must be remembered that the great majority would be on 
duty in different parts of the Palace, and as soon as any came back 
they would immediately be reHeved. Another factor possibly worth 
mentioning is the surprising number of people that sleep in the same 
room in Turkey without any apparent discomfort, or that crowd 
round a small brazier sipping coffee and puffing at their nargilehs 
in the happy state o£keyf, or dokefar niente. On one of my rambles in 
the dirty Jewish quarter of Istanbul, known as Balata, I entered a 
doss-house overlooking the Golden Horn. Curiosity took me up- 
stairs, the only entrance being up a ladder through a trapdoor. There 



lying on the floor fast asleep were nearly a dozen men, their thin 
rugs (you could hardly call them mattresses) nearly touching each 
other ; and yet there was plenty of room where men had left and 
roUed their rugs up in neat bundles. The point to be remembered is 
that there is no furniture whatever, and thus in a room about twelve 
feet square as many as eight men can sleep at the same time. 

Returning again to the courtyard, we notice that the next three 
pillars are engaged in a fmely tiled wall. This is the Princes' School, 
where the early education of the Royal male children was carried on 
until they were eight or ten years old. The entrance is through a 
small fore-court by the last pillar, whence access is also gained 
to the suite of the Chief Etmuch, or Kislar Agha. These two sets of 
apartments, the Princes' School and the Chief Eunuch's suite, are 
closely related both architecturally and scholastically, for the chief 
rooms in the school extend over the Eunuch's suite on the upper 
floor, and it was the Chief Eunuch whose duty it was to superintend 
the education of the Princes, as well as that of the girls. 

According to Ottaviano Bon (1604-7), the boys live in the 
women's quarters until they are eleven years old. From the fifth 
year to the eleventh they have their kogia, or tutor, chosen by the 
King and assigned to them as master. He enters the harem every day, 
and is led to a room in the black eunuchs' quarters without even 
seeing the women. In this room the boys are accompanied by two 
old black slaves. The tutor teaches them for as many hours as he is 
permitted to stay, and then goes outside again. When the heir to 
the throne has fmished his early schooling and has been circumcized, 
or whenever the Sultan sees fit not to keep him any longer in his 
company, he organizes a household for him complete in every respect, 
and gives him one of the chief eunuchs as controller, who is called 
the Lola Pasha, assigns him his master, and gradually provides him 
with servants either from the Seragho or from outside, in proportion 
as the claims of his position demand, allotting to him and all the 
others whatever allowance seems appropriate. 

The school consists of several rooms all decorated in a highly 
rococo style, displaying French influence that proclaims a later date 
than, for instance, one finds in the simpler tiled rooms which often 
serve as anterooms. One of these contains an elaborate map of 



Mecca, entirely in tiles, dating from about 1665. Good specimens of 
Cufic inscriptions over the doors, and interlaced wooden door panel- 
ling, reminiscent of similar work in the Alhambra, at Granada, will 
be noticed. 

The suite of the Kislar Agha (No. 37) is small and compact. It 
includes several rooms, chief among them being a deHghtful coffee- 
room, a bedroom, a smoking-room, and a lavatory. All the rooms 
are now open to the public and well repay a visit. 

The right side of the courtyard is taken up with the apartments of 
the Treasurer and the Chamberlain (Nos. 38 and 39). As already 
mentioned, the courtyard leads directly to the door of the harem 
itself (No. 41 ) . Through this door access is gained to the courtyard of 
the Sultan Vahde (No. 64), on the left, and to the Golden Road, 
straight ahead through a small door in the right-hand comer of the 
harem anteroom, or guard-room (No. 42). 

We now turn to the number of black eunuchs employed and their 
several duties. At first the status of the white eunuchs had been 
much more important than that of the black, but so great had been 
the depredations and embezzlements perpetrated that they gradually 
began to lose power, which was transferred to the black eunuchs, 
who were really, to a certain extent, their rivals. It was Murad III 
who, in 1 591, dispossessed the white Aghas of so much of their power. 
As far as the Chief Eunuch was concerned, the loss was very con- 
siderable, for it included not only the high position of Chief of the 
Girls, but also the lucrative post of nazir, or inspector of the vakfsy 
or rehgious endowments of the Imperial mosques, as well as those of 
the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. From that time onward the 
powers of the Kislar Agha continued to grow. He became com- 
mander of the corps o£baltaji, or halberdiers, held the rank of Pasha 
with three tails, was confidential messenger between the Sultan and 
the Grand Vizir, was alone entitled to have both eunuchs and girls 
as slaves, was allotted as many as 300 horses for his personal use, 
could alone approach the Sultan at all times of the day and night, 
was described as "the most illustrious of the officers who approach 
his August Person, and worthy of the confidence of monarchs and of 
sovereigns,*' was the most feared, and consequently the most bribed, 
official in the whole of the Ottoman Empire. Naturally he was a 
I 129 


member of the Privy Council, and, in consultation with the Sultan 
VaUde, made appointments to vacant posts, not only in the SeragHo 
but also outside. Anybody wishing to gain a favour from the Sultan 
by means of the Sultan Vahde would only be able to do it through 
the Kislar Agha. As already mentioned, many of the honours and 
offices originally under the authority of the white changed to black 
eunuchs. In certain reigns some of these were again restored to the 
white eunuchs. This, therefore, explains the contradictory accounts 
we sometimes read. In the rime of d'Ohsson four officials of the 
Outside Service are given as being subordinate to the Kislar Agha : 

1. The chief official in charge of the tents and pavilions of the 
Sultan [Chadir-Mihter-bashi). He was in command of a corps of 
800 men, divided into four companies of 200 men each. Forty of 
the chief among them constituted the Veznedars, or weighers of the 
money received by the Sultan. They were immediately under the 
Veznedar-bashi, Inspector of the Pubhc Treasury, which was situated 
in the First Court. The corps also furnished execurioners, who 
awaited orders near the Ortakapi. 

2. The Superintendent of the Outer Treasury [Hazinedar-hashi). 
With twenty men under him as assistants, this officer had charge of 
the Depository of Archives of Finance, the store of robes of honour, 
the satin purses and golden cloths used in the dispatching of orders 
by the Ministry. 

3 . The Purveyor (Bazerkian-bashi) of cloths, linens, muslins, and 
similar goods needed in the Sultan's household. 

4. The Keeper of the Presents (Peshkeshji-bashi)^ who looked after 
aU gifts offered the Sultan both by his own subjects and by ambassa- 
dors on behalf of their Goveniments. 

In the time of Suleiman the Magnificent all these officials were 
under the orders of the Kapi Agha, or Chief White Eunuch. 

The costume of the Kislar Agha consisted of an under-robe of 
flowered silk with a broad sash wound round the waist. Over this, 
and usually almost entirely concealing it, was a pehsse of green, 
blue, or red material with long sleeves nearly reaching to the ground. 
It was trimmed with sable or other rare furs. The hat was a huge 
white sugar-loaf affair, worn at a slant on the back of the head.' 
' See E.J. W. Gibb, History of Ottoman Poetry (London, 1900-9), vol. iii, p. 295 n. 2. 





Mention might here be made of the collection of figures now on 
view in the galleries of the church of St Irene, in the First Court of 
the Seraglio. This interesting collection shows the costumes of the 
various officials of the Turkish Empire, and was made by Abd ul- 
Mejid (1839-61). In his time the figures were in all probabihty 
dressed with every detail historically correct. But since those days 
the collection has made many journeys, and when fmally it returned 
again to St Irene in 1914 many of the figures had been broken, 
costumes mixed up or torn beyond repair, and most of the labels 
hopelessly misplaced. The Kislar Agha himself has been entirely, 
and incorrectly, re-dressed. I possess a drawing of the tableau in which 
he originally appeared, and there his dress corresponds exactly to the 
description given above, save for the fact that the sleeves are not 
trailing.^ In his 1924 guide-book Dr Mamboury describes the thirty- 
one groups into which the figures are divided, but any attempt to 
trace them all or find them in their correct groups is doomed to 
failure. They well deserve proper restoring and re-dressing by experts, 
since, to quote Murray's Handbook, "in no other place can the visitor 
obtain such a vivid impression of that strange old Turkish life which 
passed away for ever when Mahmud II introduced his reforms." ^ 

As is only to be imagined, the Kislar Agha was an enormously rich 
man, and rarely relinquished his post of his own accord. But such 
occasions have arisen, and in all cases he is sent to Egypt. In fact, 
several of them purchase property in Egypt solely with a view to 
retiring there later and spending their last days in Oriental splendour. 
No objection is made by the Sultan to these acquisitions, since he 
himself is the heir of the Kislar Agha, and knows that everything will 
come back to the Crown in time. A handsome pension is given on 

The baltaji, and also the negro and other women doing paid work 
in the Palace, receive their wages from a secretary of the Kislar Agha, 

' In addition to the drawing of the Kislar Agha reproduced opposite p. 130, see 
Recueil de cent estampes of M. de Ferriol (Paris, 1714-15), Plate 4. Compare with this 
Fig. 5 in Plate II of Arif Pacha, Anciens costumes de V empire ottoman ; and especially Fig. 
21 of Preziosi, Stamboul (Paris, 1858), where the "Eunuque de Serail" is represented as a 
huge and ugly creature on horseback with a gross and cruel face and blubber lips. He 
carries a whip of hippopotamus hide in his hand, and an attendant is walking by his side. 

* P. 74. 



who also keeps an account of the mosque revenues and other moneys 
that help to swell his master's income. Yet with all this dignity and 
importance the Chief Black Eunuch was a crude, ignorant, and cor- 
rupted man, and the thrusting of such power into his hands played 
a large part in the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire. 

Next in importance to the Kislar Agha came the Hazinedar Agha^ 
or Grand Treasurer, who often succeeded him in office. To his care 
was entrusted the financial side of the harem as well as that of the 
haltaji. He rendered his accounts quarterly, when they were passed 
on to the treasurer of the oda. He held the rank of Pasha with three 
tails. His deputy was known as the Hazine-Vekil. 

Next was the Bash-Mussahib, who acted as liaison officer between 
the Sultan and the Kislar Agha. He had eight or ten officers under 
him, called Mussahibs, who were on duty in pairs throughout the 
day to carry orders from the Sultan to the Mistress of the harem. 

Other officers were the Oda-Lala, Master of the Chamber, the 
Bash-Kapi-Oghlariy Chief Gatekeeper of the Apartments, and the 
Yailak-Bash-Kapi-Oghlan, his assistant. In addition to these, further 
officers would be appointed if there was a Sultan VaHde in the 
SeragUo. In this case she would have her own Chief Eunuch, her 
treasurer, imam, children's tutor. Keeper of the Sherbets, and other 
black eunuchs in minor offices, all with numerous assistants ready for 
any eventuahty. It will thus be seen that the total number of black 
eunuchs employed in the harem at the height of its power could not 
have been much less than 600 to 800. Early estimates of the number 
employed were very small. About 15 17 Menavino suggests forty, 
while in 1537 Junis Bey reduces the figure to twenty. But we must 
remember that it was not until after the time of Suleiman that the 
harem began to grow to any appreciable extent. The number of 
women in the harem in his time was only 300, while under Murad III 
it had risen to about 1200, and the number of black eunuchs increased 
accordingly. At the beginning of the seventeenth century Bon 
tells us that some thirty of them guarded the Sultana's gate alone. 
D'Ohsson gives a conservative estimate of*' some two hundred," and 
subsequent figures vary between 300 and 500. It is only quite recently 
that, with the greater knowledge o£ ^t personnel of the SeragHo and 
of the actual construction of the rooms and passages of the harem, 



we have been able to realize how large a number could be em- 
ployed, if as many as thirty were detailed to guard a single gate. 
That the number fluctuated largely is certain, but more than this is 
mere guess-work. The work entrusted to the ordinary black eunuchs 
was chiefly that of guards, not only of the outside and inside doors, 
but of passages, courtyards, and storerooms. The more personal 
oflices were given either to the very young or to the old and ex- 
perienced men. It should be reaHzed that the negro eunuch went 
through a long and careful training just as the ajem-oghlans did. Once 
again we can turn to Bon, who gives us a clear account of their 
apprenticeship : 

The boys are watched and disciplined by the other youths of the 
SeragHo, till at a certain age they are ready for service. They are then 
removed thence and sent to the women and placed under others in 
the service of the Sultana, being under the command of their chief, 
the Kislar Agha, or Head of the Virgins. They have a considerable 
allowance, of 60 to 100 aspri a day, two robes of finest silk, clothes, and 
other things for their needs throughout the year, besides what is 
plentifully bestowed on them from other quarters. They bear names 
of flowers, such as Hyacinth, Narcissus, Rose, and Carnation; since 
as they are in the service of women they have names suitable to 
virginity, whiteness, and fragrance.^ 

The eunuchs are also entrusted with taking and receiving messages 
between the Sultan and the Sultanas, transacting business, visiting 
the men's apartments, carrying notes to the Kapi Agha for him to 
dehver to the Sultan, and many other similar duties. But from the 
moment they enter it they must never leave the Seraglio without 
special permission from the Sultana, even though bidden to do some- 
thing by one of the lesser wives. No white eunuchs are allowed to 
visit their black brethren in any circumstances whatever. Even the 
Chief Physician passes in between a double file of black eunuchs with- 
out seeing the sign of a woman, and the extended hand of the patient 
is the most he is permitted to inspect. 

The oflices and duties of the white eunuchs have already been 
discussed when their quarters were being dealt with, which occupy a 
position between the Second and Third Courts (see pp. 119-121). 

' P. 90. 


2. The Use of Eunuchs by the Turks and the 
Origin of the Custom 

Although the use of eunuchs to guard women had been customary 
for centuries both in the Middle and in the Far East, the practice was 
unknown and unnecessary among the Turks until they had established 
their capital in Europe and had begun to adopt so many of the customs 
of the Byzantine Greeks. The practice was not new to Constantin- 
ople, and although the employment of eunuchs had been forbidden 
by Domitian in the first century of the Christian era we fmd con- 
stant mention of them in Byzantine times. 

The early Sultans knew nothing of eunuchs, just as they knew 
nothing of the harem, royal seclusion, elaborate Court ceremonial, 
or the almost exclusive employment of Christians to form a slave 

At the earliest it was not until the middle of the fifteenth century 
that the use of eunuchs began to be adopted. Adrianople had become 
the capital in 1 361, and gradually assumed the true nature of a capital : 
the city was fortified, pubhc buildings were erected, mosques were 
built, and a royal palace was set up. As time went on the Byzantine 
custom of the seclusion of majesty began to impress itself on the 
conquerors, and the methods previously employed to protect that 
majesty were also adopted, and so gradually the harem and the em- 
ployment of eunuchs came into being. The two things went together 
as they always had done. Despotism and polygamy had created the 
necessity for eunuchs, and the injunctions of the Koran were over- 
looked with surprising rapidity and casualness. It was, of course, 
the swift development of the Turkish Empire that forced the pace. 
The continual victories in different parts of Bulgaria, Croatia, and 
Greece as well as in Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, and Persia produced a 
rich booty in slaves. Presents of slaves, both male and female, from 
conquered Emirs or princes wishing to gain the Sultan's favour and 
protection, would often include eunuchs, and once the innovation 
had proved a success the demand could easily be suppHed. Turkish his- 
torians date the introduction of the employment of eunuchs in the first 
quarter of the fifteenth century under Muhammad I and Murad IL 



This apparently refers only to white eunuchs. The black variety, 
however, were in use about 1475, while by the time of Suleiman the 
Magnificent Roxelana's personal guard consisted of both white and 
black eunuchs. With the moving of the Royal harem from the Eski 
Serai to the new palace on Seraglio Hill about 1541 the institution 
became firmly estabhshed. As the power of the Ottoman Empire 
grew and the State coffers became full, so also the numbers in the 
Seragho increased, and Court ceremony became even more elaborate 
than before. If formerly two eunuchs were sufficient to guard a door, 
now it was ten. And so the true Oriental love of pomp and display 
was given full rein, and the Greco-Byzantine splendour was revived 
once more. 

But the reign of the eunuchs was a long one, and even in this 
twentieth century, in the time of Abd ul-Hamid II, their power was 
as great as ever. 

It would be hard to find a eunuch more cruel and vile than was 
Djevher Agha, a huge, swollen, balloon-like creature of extra- 
ordinary stature who ended his wretched life at the rope's end on 
Galata Bridge. In Nadir Agha, the second eunuch of this period, a 
man bought at the age of ten from an Egyptian slave merchant for 
150 francs, we see an example of the girUsh, shm variety. The 
revolution of 1908 was the death-blow to a system that was rotten 
to the core. 

It may be of interest to trace, as briefly as possible, the origin of 
the use of eunuchs, the route by which the custom came to Europe, 
and whence in later years the Turkish supply was obtained. 

The original home of the eunuch appears to have been Mesopo- 
tamia, the cradle of so many institutions to be transplanted west- 
ward. The contention of Ammianus Marcellinus^ that the first 
person to castrate men was Semiramis may perhaps be not so far 
firom the truth after all. But we must no longer regard her as the 
Ishtar-like goddess of Greek myth, but identify her with Sammu- 
ramat, who ruled Assyria as queen-mother from 811 to 808 B.C. 
It is proved from extant texts that eunuchs were employed in Assyria, 
and their constant mention in the Old Testament (whatever meaning 
sdrts may have in each particular reference) only tends to support this 

' xiv, 6, 17. 


assertion. With the eunuch priest of Ephesian Artemis, Atargatis, 
and the Cybele-Attis cult we are not concerned, nor does our brief 
inquiry touch rehgious sodomy, widely spread not only in Africa, 
but also among the ancient Semites and American aborigines. The 
mention of the existence of such strange cults is made to show 
how the ' religious ' eunuch was gradually moving westward — from 
Mesopotamia to Syria, from Syria to Asia Minor, and from Asia 
Minor to Europe. 

But this was not the end of the unlioly wedlock between reUgion 
and eunuchs, and the unnatural development of asceticism in the 
early Christian Church was as virulent as it was amazing. *' The 
Kingdom of Heaven is thrown open to eunuchs," declared TertulUan, 
while Origen was only one of many who castrated himself. The 
patristic code of morahty, as evidenced by the writings of men like 
Athanasius, Clement of Alexandria, St Jerome, St Ambrose, and 
Gregory of Nyssa, advocated the absolute necessity for chastity at 
any cost^ and woman was regarded as the obstacle to that chastity. 
The doctrine was dangerous in the extreme, and much appalling 
unhappiness must have resulted. To the Church, too, must be 
laid the guilt of countenancing the vile practice of castrating boys 
to preserve their voices for the Papal choir in the Sistine Chapel. 
Although condemned by Benedict XIV the custom continued until 
the accession of Leo XIII in 1878. Closely connected was the use of 
eunuch singers on the Italian operatic stage, where in the eighteenth 
century these castrati were extremely popular, and male sopranos 
— Nicolini, Grimaldi, Senesino, FarineUi, and many others — became 
famous throughout Europe. 

The only other ' rehgious ' eunuchs of which mention should be 
made are the Skoptsi {skopets, 'eunuch'), first discovered in 1772 in 
villages around Orjol, in the districts of Belev and Alexin. This 
secret Russian sect, from a mere sixty, numbers some 100,000 to-day, 
although many of its members have not submitted to the rite of 
castration. One of their curious beUefs is that Adam and Eve were 
created sexless, and that after the Fall the halves of the forbidden 
fruit were grafted upon them as testicles and breasts. Hence it is 
their duty to restore the disfigured image of God, by aid of the 
Knife, to its original form. The sect has a strange attraction for 



Finns, who appear to be temperamentally disposed to religious 

But to return to the ' lay ' eunuch, used to guard harems, we soon 
find the practice spreading from Assyria to Persia, and the Persians 
are probably the first people we know for certain to have castrated 
prisoners for the express purpose of employing them to guard the 
harem. When Cyrus captured Babylon in 538 B.C. he decided that 
as eunuchs had no famihes they were in the unique position of 
having nobody to love and serve other than him who employed 

According to Xenophon his argument was as follows : 

... he observed that as eunuchs were not susceptible to any [family] 
affections, he thought that they would esteem most highly those who 
were in the best position to make them rich and to stand by them, if 
ever they were wronged, and to place them in offices of honour; and 
no one, he thought, could surpass him in bestowing favours of that kind. 
Besides, inasmuch as eunuchs are objects of contempt to the rest of 
mankind, for this reason, if for no other, they need a master who will 
be their patron ; for there is no man who would not think that he had 
a right to take advantage of a eunuch at every opportunity unless there 
were some higher power to prevent his doing so ; but there is no reason 
why even a eunuch should not be superior to all others in fidelity to 
his master. But he did not admit what many might very easily be 
inclined to suppose, that eunuchs are weaklings; and he drew this 
conclusion also from the case of other animals : for instance, vicious 
horses, when gelded, stop biting and prancing about, to be sure, but 
are none the less fit for service in war ; and bulls, when castrated, lose 
somewhat of their high spirit and unruliness but are not deprived of 
their strength or capacity for work. And in the same way dogs, when 
castrated, stop running away from their masters, but are no less useful 
for watching or hunting. And men, too, in the same way, become 
gender when deprived of this desire, but not less careful of that which 
is entrusted to them; they are not made any less efficient horsemen, 
or any less skilful lancers, or less ambitious men. On the contrary, 
they showed both in times of war and in hunting that they still pre- 
served in their souls a spirit of rivalry ; and of their fidelity they gave 
the best proof upon the fall of their masters, for no one ever performed 
acts of greater fidehty in his master's misfortunes than eunuchs do. 
And if it is thought with some justice that they are inferior in bodily 
strength, yet on the field of batde steel makes the weak equal to the 



Strong. Recognizing these facts, he selected eunuchs for every post of 
personal service to him, from the door-keepers up.^ 

Although in a fev^ exceptional cases the judgment of Cyrus has 
proved correct, yet as a general rule the power of eunuchs has 
brought in its trail nothing but cruelty, intrigue, corruption, and 

Herodotus ^ tells us how the Persians castrated the lonians and 
carried them off, together with the most beautiful virgins, to their 
king. Thus the custom became only too well knov^oi in Greece at 
an early date. In the opposite direction, castration was already well 
established in China, and flourished there until the fall of the great 
Palace of Pekin. 

But in the West the contagion of Asiatic luxury introduced the 
eunuch to Rome as well as Greece, and Gibbon has much to tell us 
of the reign of the eunuchs over the Roman world : 

Restrained by the severe edicts of Domitian and Nerva, cherished by 
the pride of Diocletian, reduced to an humble station by the prudence 
of Constantine, they multipUed in the palaces of his degenerate sons, 
and insensibly acquired the knowledge, and at length the direction, of 
the secret councils of Constantius.^ 

But there were those who feared not to attack this cancer that was 
rotting the heart of the Empire, and Claudian, the last of the classic 
poets, devotes an entire poem to an attack on Eutropius, the eunuch 
who dominated Arcadius (378-408) so utterly. With pen dipped in 
vitriol he fmds it hard to express his loathing and contempt for the 
eunuch and the depth to which the state has sunk to allow such vermin 
to govern. " Up hastens the Armenian," he cries, 

skilled by operating v^dth unerring knife to make males womanish 
and to increase their loathly value by such loss. He drains the body's 
life-giving fluid from its double source and with one blow deprives 
his victim of a father's function and the name of husband.'^ 

But in spite of everything the custom lingered in the Levant, and 
when the Turks first began to seclude their women the Byzantines 

' Cyropcedia, vii, v, 60-65, translated by W. Miller, vol. ii (1914), the Loeb Classical 
Library. * vi, 32. 

3 See further Decline and Fall, chapter xix. 
♦ Translated by M. Platnauer, 47-51. vol. i (1920), the Loeb Classical Library. 



were able to supply the necessary eunuchs for a time. But soon they 
began to look farther afield. White eunuchs were obtainable from 
many of the conquered areas, but they often proved dehcate, and 
the mortality was great. The negro was tried, and proved both cheap 
and successful. Thus a demand for them was created, and the slave- 
dealers soon taught the African chiefs that a living prisoner was much 
more valuable than a dead one. This is not the place to discuss the 
growth of the slave traffic, but a word might well be said on the 
locality from which these negroes were drawn and the routes by 
which they reached their destination. Although the supply of negroes 
went entirely to Muhammadan countries, it was in all probability 
only geographical considerations that kept them from ever reaching 
the other great palace which employed such enormous quantities of 
eunuchs — that in the Forbidden City of Pekin. The great difference 
between the eunuchs in Turkey and those in Pekin was that whereas 
in China they were all Chinese, in Turkey they were anything but 
Turks. As far as the Levant was concerned, Egypt, Abyssinia, and 
Central Africa became a happy hunting-ground, and thus as time 
went on the Georgian and Circassian 'whites' were supplemented 
by the Abyssinian and Sudanese 'blacks.' According to Muhamma- 
dan law slaves captured in war became the absolute property of the 
victor, and, as any title to property could be transferred, the slave- 
dealer, having procured his slaves from an African chief or Arab 
kidnapper, could legally commit his right to any Muhammadan 
customer who cared to pay the price. Consequently a flourishing and 
lucrative trade was soon estabhshed. The chief locality from which 
the negroes were obtained was in the upper reaches of the White 
Nile, chiefly Kordofan, Darfur, and Dongola as well as the Bagirmi 
district to the south-east of Lake Chad. Others came from Abys- 
sinia, whence they proceeded to the Red Sea ports of Massawa and 
Suakin to begin a weary journey to the chief emporiums, such as 
Smyrna, Beirut, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, and Constantinople. For 
the most part the White Nile negroes would be taken up the Nile 
to Alexandria, crammed like sardines in tiny boats, or else they would 
be made to cross the Sahara partly on foot and partly on camel, 
fmally to reach the coast at Tripoli, Tunis, or Morocco. The trans- 
portation of the human merchandise was naturally a tedious and risky 



affair, and entrepots had to be established en route. On the Nile 
route they were at Gondokoro and Khartoum, and at such places as 
Kebabo and Marzuk, in the Fezzan district, on the Sahara route. It 
was during the halts at these places that the castration of the negro 
boys took place. The operation was dangerous, and, with only the 
warm desert sand to use as a styptic, mortality was high, but the 
slave-dealer had allowed for this, and such eunuch boys as did arrive 
at their destination compensated for the losses by the large prices 
they fetched. The caravan would also contain a large number of 
negresses, to fmd a ready market in Cairo and Constantinople. 
Eunuchs, being a luxury, were often privately sold, going to the 
homes of the rich Pashas, if not to the Seragho itself. The rest of the 
stock would be taken to the slave market, which has only dis- 
appeared in recent years. 

Some description of the methods of meeting the demand for white 
eunuchs has already been given when we were dealing with their 
quarters in the Seragho (see pp. 121-122). 

3. The Physiological and Psychological Aspect 

The inclusion of a short section on this side of the subject is due 
not so much to the desire to make this chapter as complete as possible, 
but rather to the fact that a better appreciation of the physical and 
mental condition of eunuchs and their varieties will unquestionably 
lead to the greater understanding of the harem system and to its 
gradual decay and fall, so largely caused by the introduction and 
increasing influence of this unproductive, sterile, unnatural, and 
altogether unwholesome member of society — the eunuch. 

From the earliest times a considerable interest has been shown in 
regard to eunuchs. This is really only natural, for even freaks of 
nature are sufficient to hold the interest of the curious, so much so that 
no travelling circus is complete without its Siamese twins, bearded 
lady, Tom Thumb, or some other example of the grim jokes of 

But in the case of eunuchs everybody knows that the condition is 
not natural, but is a terrible mutilation imposed by one male upon 
another. The eflect is seen — and heard — the reason is generally 



appreciated ; but the methods by which the mutilation is carried out 
and the different degrees to which this can be done appear to be 
hardly known at all. This general ignorance is certainly not due to 
lack of interest in the subject, but to several distinct factors — the 
scarcity of pubUshed information, the gradual discontinuance of the 
custom, the secrecy which has always surrounded the infamous trade 
of making eunuchs, and the consequential disinclination of those con- 
nected in any way with it to discuss the subject at all. Most of the 
writers on eunuchs wrote under noms-de-plume, while, with the single 
exception of the book by Millant (see p. 151), there appears to be no 
modern work on the subject whatsoever. As is often the case, the 
etymological history of the words connected with the subject affords 
a certain amount of information. There is, however, considerable 
difference of opinion among scholars about the derivation and mean- 
ing of the best-known word of all — 'eunuch.' Several German 
philologists suggest that the Greek evvovxot is a loan word from the 
Semitic. I can, however, fmd no proof of this whatever, and in- 
quiries from Assyrian and Hebrew scholars in Great Britain have 
yielded nothing in support of such a theory. It would seem, then, 
that the old derivation, firom evvrj, * bed,* and o;^, the ablaut stem of 
ex^LVy ' to keep ' — the word thus meaning ' he who has charge of the 
bed* — should still be adhered to. The only Assyrian connexion 
appears to be through the Hebrew sans, * eunuch,' which is a loan 
word from the Assyrian sa resi, meaning, as a passage in a medical 
text explains, la alidi, 'he who does not beget.' Thus these words 
are self-explanatory, whereas ' eunuch ' tells us nothing of the physical 
condition. It should be noted, however, that the Hebrew sans had 
two distinct meanings — in fact, they were really two separate words 
— one being 'eunuch' and die other 'captain,' 'high official,' or 
'chamberlain.' The latter occurs chiefly in the Old Testament 
(Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), while in Matthew, 
Acts, and Romans the former is the meaning intended.^ There are 
several other words connected with castration that are informative, 
as they show us that the condition was brought about by crushing, 
striking, cutting, and pulling. 

' On this subject see further T. K, Cheync and J. S. Black, Encyclopedia Biblica, vol, ii 



The method of striking or crushing ' is apparent in such words as 
the Latin capo, 'capon,' from the Greek kotttoj, 'strike,' the Greek 
6\dBta<i, &\l^la<i, 'eunuch,' from ^\a&>, 'crush,' and the Sanskrit 
vadhri, 'eunuch,' from vadh, 'strike.' Cutting is shown in the Latin 
castro, 'castrate,' from root kes, in the Sanskrit sas, ' cut,' in the Greek 
TOfila^, 'eunuch,' from rifivfo, 'cut,' and in the Sanskrit nirasta, 
'castrated,' from asri, 'edge' or 'knife.' Finally, the operation of 
pulling or dragging appears to be implied in such words as the Greek 
a-TrdBcov, 'eunuch, from <nrd(o, drag. 

Thus it would seem that there are several kinds of eimuchs, quite 
apart from those born entirely impotent. The early Christians 
naturally followed Matthew, xix, 12, where we read : 

For there are eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's 
womb : and there are eunuchs, which were made eunuchs by men : 
and there are eunuchs, which made themselves eunuchs for the king- 
dom of heaven's sake. 

Critics of this passage tell us that the word * eunuch* is usedsymboHc- 
ally, and the meaning is that those who have entirely devoted them- 
selves to the interests of the kingdom of heaven cannot satisfy the 
claims of married hfe. However, Origen Hved to repent his too 
literal rendering of the passage. It is interesting to note that Muham- 
mad also uses the word in a symbohc sense when he condemns the 
making of eunuchs, and adds, "Castration in Islam may consist only 
in fasting." 
In classical times the varieties of eunuchs were as follows: 

(i) Castrati, clean-cut — both penis and testicles. 

(2) Spadones, whose testicles only are removed by a process of 


(3) Thlibice, whose testicles are bruised and crushed, the seminal 

glands being thus permanently injured — chiefly apphed 
in the case of the very young. 

The thlasice were almost identical with No. 3 above. 

In the East, according to Burton,^ there were also three kinds : 

' Mentioned in the Sanskrit Atharva-Veda, VI, cxxxviii, 2. 
» Nights, Supp. vol. i, pp. 71-72. 



(i) Sandali, or clean-shaved. The parts are swept off by a single 
cut of a razor, a tube (tin or wooden) is set in the urethra, 
the wound is cauterized with boiling oil, and the patient 
is planted in a fresh dung-hill. His diet is milk, and if 
under puberty he often survives. 

(2) The eunuch whose penis is removed. He retains all the 

power of copulation and procreation without the where- 
withal ; and this, since the discovery of caoutchouc, has 
often been supplied. 

(3) The eunuch, or classical thlibias and semivir, who has been 

rendered sexless by the removing of the testicles (as the 
priests of Cybele were castrated with a stone knife), or 
by their being bruised (the Greek dXaa-ca<;), twisted, 
seared, or bandaged. 

Methods seem to have been similar in all countries, the only differ- 
ences being in the local means employed to stop haemorrhage and to 
prevent the passages from swelling. Stent gives a detailed description 
of the method adopted with Chinese eunuchs : 

The operation is performed in this manner: — white ligatures or 
bandages are bound tightly round the lower part of the belly and the 
upper parts of the thighs, to prevent too much hemorrhage. The 
parts about to be operated on are then bathed three times with hot 
pepper-water, the intended eunuch being in a reclining position. 
When the parts have been sufficiently bathed, the whole — both testicles 
and penis — are cut off as closely as possible with a small carved knife, 
something in the shape of a sickle. The emasculation being effected, a 
pewter needle or spigot is carefully thrust into the main orifice at the 
root of the penis ; the wound is then covered with paper samrated in 
cold water and is carefuUy bound up. After the wound is dressed the 
patient is made to walk about the room, supported by two * knifers,' 
for two or three hours, when he is allowed to He down. The patient 
is not allowed to drink anything for three days, during which time he 
often suffers great agony, not only from thirst, but from intense pain, 
and from the impossibility of reHeving nature during that period. At 
the end of three days the bandage is taken off, the spigot is pulled out, 
and the sufferer obtains reHef in the copious flow of urine which 
spurts out Hke a fountain. If this takes place satisfactorily, the patient 
is considered out of danger and congratulated on it ; but if the un- 
fortunate wretch cannot make water he is doomed to a death of 



agony, for the passages have become swollen and nothing can save 

The mortality is not great, although exaggerated figures have 
been given. It is obvious, however, that the number of fatal cases 
among young negroes at the mercy of unskilled ' knifers ' would be 
considerable. In fact, a large discount for ' losses en route ' was always 
allowed. In speaking of eunuchs in the Seraglio Sandys and Rycaut 
mention the fact that they carried quills of silver hidden in their 
turbans, through which to make water. 

The physical and mental effects of castration naturally vary accord- 
ing to the age at w^hich the operation is performed. If the subject is 
a child not yet arrived at the age of puberty and if proper precau- 
tions are taken the operation is not dangerous. But after puberty 
both physical and mental effects become a very important factor. 
The mind has begun to reahze the promptings of nature even if 
actual intercourse has not taken place, and consequently the full 
realization of the irreparable loss brings an agony of mind that is 
hard for us to reahze. But even if sexual thoughts or desires were absent 
it would often happen that when constant attendance upon women 
had created a knowledge, all too late, of what pleasures awaited the 
normal man, a feeling of terrible resentment would be experienced, 
coupled with a mingled feeling of revenge and despair. No wonder, 
then, that eunuchs have been described as ill-tempered, morose, 
childish, petulant, revengeful, cruel, and arrogant; and on the 
other hand as simple, credulous, harmless, fawning, fond of pleasure, 
and very generous in their dealings. This apparent contradiction of 
characteristics would seem to arise from the widely varying effects 
the operation has on different subjects. It is not only the age of the 
victim that has to be considered in the forming of his mental make- 
up, but the circumstances that led to his castration. A boy captured 
in a raid and sold later would never bear the terrible grudge against 
humanity in general, and his parents in particular, as a boy would 
who had been sold by his parents for the mere lust of gain. The physi- 
cal effects of castration are well known — complete lack of bodily 
hair, the feminine 'cracked' voice (deeper, however, in the black 
races), the gradual flabbiness of the body, often accompanied by 
» Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, North China branch (1877), p. 171. 



obesity and ugly wrinkling of the skin in later life. Among other 
effects of castration may be mentioned a weak bladder, loss of 
memory, insomnia, and bad eyesight. Eunuchs have no liking for 
alcohol, of which the smallest amount is sufficient to make them 
incapable. They prefer cakes and sweetmeats to meat. Their 
favourite colour is red. They like music, especially the rhythmic 
beat of the drum or tambourine and all Central African instruments. 
They are neat in their habits, but are miserly and fond of accumulat- 
ing wealth. They unite the small brain of the negro with the childish 
imagination of the ignorant Oriental. Consequently they believe the 
wildest stories, and once an idea has entered their minds nothing can 
change it. A terrible story about a Chinese eunuch, related later, 
goes to illustrate this point. They adore what we call ' fairy stories,' 
and can listen to recitations of the Thousand Nights and a Night and 
similar collections for an indefinite period. They love children and 
animals, including chickens, sheep, cows, and monkeys — ^but most 
of all cats, which they keep as pets and treat with the utmost care and 

As regards sexual feelings, it is quite incorrect to imagine that a 
castrated male loses all desires immediately. Not only is he often 
attracted strongly to women, but, strange as it may seem, evokes 
affection in return, and in the history of the harem many marriages 
of eunuchs have taken place. In such cases, however, the eunuch 
' hves out,' and is usually drafted to one of the lesser palaces in 
the town. Such venereal promptings are naturally regulated by the 
state of the prostate, which in the case of eunuchs castrated before 
puberty is entirely atrophied.' 

In a manuscript^ dated 1699-1700, in the British Museum, by 
J. Richards, one of the Richards brothers, of Solsborough, County 
Wexford, is an interesting reference to marriages of eunuchs : 

There is a 3^^ Sort of Marriage if it may be so called between an 
Eunuch and a Woman and I hear meane those who are cut close, not- 
withstanding w^ it is credibly reported that they have commerce in a 
manner unknown to us, and it is no great matter, nay eaven the 

' See further Hikmet and Regnault, two Constantinople doctors, in " Les Eunuques 
de Constantinople " {Bulletin et mimoires de la societe d" anthropologic de Paris, tome ii, Serie 
V, Paris, 1901, pp. 234-240). 

* Stowe MSS., 462, fF. 47^-48, 

K 145 


Women amongst themselves have w^ays of Suplying the DefFect of 
Men & it is not to be w^ondered att that these miserable Creatures who 
have no other knowledge of themselves than that [they] are made for 
the use of Man, nor that faith w'' teaches a future reward and punish- 
ment for Vertue & Vice, it is not to be admired [wondered (?)] att y' 
they should give themselves up to all maiier of Lusts & Sensuahty in 
w^ they say y' they excell all other Women. 

The sentiments that Montesquieu puts into the mouth of the Chief 
Eunuch in his 9th and 64th Letters may well express the true feelings 
of a man castrated after puberty. Montesquieu, we know, relied 
chiefly on Tavemier and Chardin for his knowledge of the Seraglio 
and its customs, but his knowledge of women was first-hand. In 
the 9th Letter, speaking of his disillusionment about the peace 
and quiet of mind that wotdd be his after castration, when he 
found to his horror that women still attracted him, the eunuch 
continues : 

... far from being reheved, I found myself surrounded by objects 
which continually whetted my desires. When I entered the SeragHo, 
where everything filled me with regret for what I had lost, my agita- 
tion increased every moment; a thousand natural charms seemed to 
unfold themselves to my sight only to tantahze me ; . . . I never led 
a woman to my master's bed without feehng wild rage in my heart, 
and despair unutterable in my soul. ... I remember one day, as I 
attended a lady at the bath, I was so carried away that I lost command 
of myself, and dared to lay my hand where I should not. My first 
thought was that my last day had come. I was, however, fortunate 
enough to escape a dreadful death ; but the fair one, whom I had made 
the wimess of my weakness, extorted a heavy price for her silence : I 
entirely lost command of her, and she forced me, each time at the risk 
of my life, to comply with a thousand caprices. 

At length the fire of his youth died out, and in its place arose a 
desire to pay back for all the misery he had endured by harsh 
treatment : 

The Seragho is my Empire; and my ambition, the only passion 
left me, fmds no small gratification. I mark with pleasure that my 
presence is required at all times ; I willingly incur the hatred of all 
these women, because that establishes me more firmly in my post. 
And they do not hate me for nothing, I can tell you: I interfere 
with their most innocent pleasures ; I am always in the way, an insur- 



mountable obstacle ; before they know where they are they find their 
schemes frustrated ; I am armed with refusals, I bristle with scruples ; 
not a word is heard from me but duty, virtue, chastity, modesty. . . . 
Do not suppose that in my turn I have not to suffer endless unpleasant- 
ness. Every day these women seek occasions to repay me with interest 
and their reprisals are often terrible. 

And the unhappy man tells of the thousand and one tricks they play 
on him, arousing his suspicion, anger, sympathy, and doubt just to 
make mock of him ; and how all his efforts may be undone when their 
false tears, sighs, and embraces melt their master's heart. "It is their 
time of triumph," he concludes, "their charms are arrayed against 
me . . . and nothing can plead for me with a master who is no longer 

That eunuchs often nurse their grievances for years, and take their 
revenge if opportunity offers, is well known from the history of 
Hermotimus the Pedasian, the most favoured of all the eunuchs of 
Xerxes. According to Herodotus' he was taken by an enemy and 
sold, being purchased by one Panionius, a Chian, who gained a liveli- 
hood by most infamous practices. For whenever he purchased boys 
remarkable for their beauty, having castrated them, he used to take 
and sell them at Sardis and Ephesus for large sums. Hermotimus had 
been one of these unfortunate boys. Chance brought him in touch 
with Panionius once more, and he persuaded him to move to Sardis 
with his wife and children. Having thus got his old enemy into his 
power, Hermotimus upbraided him for his terrible livelihood and 
forced him to castrate his own four sons. Not being yet satisfied, 
he then made the sons castrate their father. "Thus the vengeance of 
Hermotimus overtook Panionius." 

The knowledge that coitus was possible for quite a long time 
after partial castration led the ' fast ' women of degenerate Rome to 
take full advantage of the situation. Thus Martial's bitter epigram 
demands : 

Do you ask, Pannychus, why your Caeha only consorts with 
eunuchs? Caeha wants the flowers of marriage — not the fruit. ^ 

And again, referring to Domitian's law forbidding castration, 
Martial says : 

' viii, 105, 106. * vi, 67. 


It used to be a sport to violate the sacred ties of marriage ; a sport to 
mutilate innocent males. Both you forbid, Caesar, and so help the 
generations yet to come, as you order that births are to be free from 
guilt. Thus while you are ruler no man will be eunuch or adulterer ; 
but formerly (what morals !) even a eunuch was an adulterer.' 

Juvenal gives us more detail on the same subject : 

Some women always dehght in soft eunuchs and tender kisses, and 
in the absence of beard and the fact that the use of abortives is un- 
necessary. The height of their enjoyment, however, is when the lads 
have been led to the doctor in the heat and first flush of youth with 
a bush of dark hairs already visible ; and the testicles they have waited 
for and encouraged to grow in the early stages, as soon as they reach a 
couple of pounds, the surgeon, Hehodorus, seizes and scores just that 
much over the barber. Made a eunuch by his mistress, conspicuous 
from afar, he enters the bath the cynosure of all eyes, and vies with 
[Priapus] the guardian of our vines and gardens. Let him he with his 
mistress, but, Postumus, trust not your Bromius, already grown to 
manhood, to him.^ 

Indeed, the fact that the eunuch who has lost only his testicles can 
have erections for a considerable time and enjoy sexual intercourse 
was fully recognized whenever such people were employed. In 
fact, the motif (if so it can be called) forms the main theme of the 
*' Tale of the First Eunuch, Bukhayt," in the Nights.^ A negro youth 
seduces a girl and suffers castration as a punishment. He is then made 
her Agha, but continues to have connexion with her until she dies. 
In a typical note on the tale Burton tells us that his erectio et distentio 
penis would last as long as his heart and circulation kept sound. Hence 
the eunuch who preserves his penis is much prized in the zenana, 
where some women prefer him to the entire man, on account of his 
long performance of the deed of kind ; but chiefly, I may add with 
Juvenal, because ahortio non est opus. 

It was impossible to stop every form of sexual indulgence in the 
SeragHo, and a eunuch in touch with the outside world could easily 
smuggle artificial phalli and similar erotic succedania into the harem 
and to a certain extent play the part of Lesbian, which by its very 
novelty and perversion might help to satisfy the cravings of a bored 
and neglected woman. Even a married eunuch, then, was not 

' vi, 2. * vi, 366-378. 3 Burton, vol. ii, pp. 49-50. 



entirely deprived of all sexual enjoyment. Burton gained the con- 
fidence of a eunuch's wife, who told him that her husband practised 
the manifold plaisirs de la petite oie (masturbation, tribadism, irruma- 
tion, tete-heche,feuiUe-de-rose, etc.) till they induced the venereal orgasm 
(the secretion of the prostate gland?). At the critical moment she 
held up a little pillow for her husband to bite, who otherwise would 
have torn her cheeks or breasts. There is ample evidence to show 
that eunuchs often had a deep and genuine affection for some of their 
charges, entirely free from any question of subsequent gain. It is 
more difficult to appreciate the technique employed by the woman 
to induce orgasm in the eunuchs, and no satisfactory accounts 
appear to exist. The procedure probably centres about the region 
immediately surrounding the opening of the urethra, as eunuchs 
sometimes report erotic sensations in that area. Anal massage would 
also play its part, while the knowledge and use of aphrodisiacs would 

It will thus be realized that after adopting the Byzantine custom of 
employing eunuchs to guard their harems the Turks were very careful 
to use only those who were fully emasculated. White eunuchs — 
Georgians and Circassians — were given jobs that would never bring 
them into close touch with the women, as in most cases their castra- 
tion was incomplete. But as regards the negroes, the highest prices 
were paid for those who, besides being entirely rase, possessed the 
ugliest and most revolting faces, it being imagined (correctly or not) 
that this was a further guard against any profligacy on the part of 
the women. The Seraglio doctors not only inspected the eunuchs 
on admission, but examined them every few years just to see that 
everything was in order and that nothing had grown again! A 
curious tale is told of an arrogant Chinese chief eunuch who flourished 
in Chien-lung's reign (1736-96). One day he insulted the omni- 
potent President Liu, telling him that his power was unable to extend 
to eunuchs. The next day Liu informed the Emperor that many of 
the eunuchs had grown to such an extent as to render recastration 
necessary, and that licentiousness and disorder were rife between 
them and the women. An immediate inspection was ordered, 
with the result that under the fresh operation many eunuchs died 
and appalling suffering was endured afresh. The arrogance of the 



eunuchs was thus forcibly checked for a time. Superstition and 
ignorance was capable of anything, and Stent tells us of another 
eunuch named Wei-chung-hsien who secretly kept a concubine and 
tried every known medicine to regain his powers of procreation. A 
doctor told him that if he extracted the brains of seven men and 
ate them his genitals would return to their original state. He there- 
fore procured seven criminals, had their heads split open, the brains 
extracted from them, and devoured the revolting mess. Tradition 
does not inform us whether this horrible remedy produced the desired 
effect or not. 

But the days of the eunuch are over. With the passing of the 
harem in the Muhammadan world (save in Mecca itself) the necessity 
for the eunuch has disappeared, and despite all my efforts in Turkey 
I met only two, or possibly three, of these strange beings. I was told 
that these were the last of them. They had been a necessary evil 
where despotism and polygamy held sway, but now they are a thing 
of the past — and already have returned in our minds to the pages of 
the Arabian Nights, where alone they seem rightly to belong. 

4. Bibliography 

Bibhographically the eunuch will not detain us long, as there 
appear to be only three or four works entirely devoted to him. I 
have already given a list of articles and references to the eunuch,^ 
but at that time could only discover one actual book: that by 
Ancillon published in 1707. I can now add two or three more. But 
first of all I might mention that 'Ancillon' was the nom-de-plume — or, 
rather, anagram — of Comte d'Ollincan, and his work was translated 
into EngHsh by Robert Samber (anonymously) in 1718.^ Of the 
other books I have come across the earliest is one by Joannes Heri- 
bertus, which is a nom-de-plume of Teofilo Raynaud, the Italian Jesuit 
theologian and conversationalist.^ The title is as follows: Eunuchi 
nati, facti, mystici ex sacra et humana litteratura illustrati.^ The British 

' Ocean of Story (London, 1925), vol. iii, pp. 328-329, "Indian Eunuchs." 

* Under the title o£ Eunuchism displayed, describing all the Different Sorts of Eunuchs . . . 

with Several Observations on Modern Eunuchs, written by a Person of Honour (London). 
' He wrote many curious works, for some description of which see Brunet, Manuel 

du libraire, under " Raynaud." ♦ Divione, 1655. 



Museum library contains three copies of it. The next book is by 
Hieronymus Delphinus, Eunuchi conjugium ; hoc est, scripta varia de 
conjugio inter eunuchum et virginem juvenculam anno 1666 contractor 

At the time of writing the latest work on the subject appears to be 
Les Eunuques a tr avers les ages, by Le Dr Richard Millant.^ It is as yet 
the most comprehensive work extant. My attention was drawn to 
it by Dr E. D. Gumming, of New York, who is busy on a history of 

There remains only to mention the work of H. R. M. Chamber- 
lain, The Eunuch in Society, which was fmished several years ago and, 
I beheve, still awaits a pubhsher. 

» lenae, 1685. The British Museum library possesses two copies of this edition, and 
others of 1697, 1730, and 1737. Brunet knew only of the last two. Pisanus Fraxi (H. S. 
Ashbee) gives some description of the 1697 edition in his Catena librorum tacendomm, 
pp. 15-20. 

* Pubhshed in Paris, 1908, as vol. xiii of the Bibliotheque des perversions sexuelles. 




XJefore we discuss the working arrangement of the harem system 
when it was at its height, and consider some details of the various 
ceremonies and activities carried on within its walls, readers will 
probably want to know how much remains to-day, and just what 
they would see if they visited the Seraglio to-morrow. I shall 
therefore give most of this chapter to a description of the harem 
buildings, both outside and inside, so far as I know them. I make this 
reservation purposely, because at the present moment it is impossible 
for anybody to examine every part of every room and corridor of 
the harem, even if he is armed with special permission issued by 
Kemal Atatiirk himself. The reason for this is that the fragile state 
of many of the floors renders them dangerous to walk on ; while 
several rooms and passages are entirely blocked up either by general 
debris or else by piles of packing-cases, trunks, enormous chandeliers, 
derelict sofas, etc. I consider myself very lucky in having been able 
to obtain the photograph of the courtyard of the harem girls (opposite 
p. 156), especially as even the official photographer has never been 
accorded such a privilege. For the full appreciation of this curious 
mass of little buildings which constitutes the harem it should be realized 
at once that its component parts were continually changing. Each 
Sultan would satisfy his whims and fancies by the erection of a new 
suite for a favourite kadin ; a new courtyard would be built in one 
reign, only to be destroyed to make room for a kiosk in the next. 
As a rule private suites of past favourites were not repaired and handed 
over to a new occupier. On the contrary, when the ex-wives had 
been moved to the Old Seragho {Eski Serai) on a Sultan's death, the 
rooms were usually left empty and allowed to fall into gradual decay. 
In more recent times many structural alterations and redecorations 
were made, especially when the French styles (Louis XIV and 
Louis XV) began to be popular at the Porte. "We have already 
noticed the influence in the Hall of the Divan and certain rooms in 


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the black eunuchs' quarters, and we shall notice it still more in the 
Fourth Court, where every conceivable kind of European decoration 
and furniture found its way to the Kiosk of Abd ul-Mejid. 

Of considerable interest is Melling's drawing of the harem, which I 
shall discuss in detail later on. At the moment I would merely refer 
to it in order to make clear that the harem was never Hke that at all. 
The picture merely represents what Melling would have built had 
he been entrusted with the complete remodelling of the Seraglio, 
as doubtless he hoped he would be. He had already made a good 
beginning in being appointed architect to Hatijeh Sultan, the favourite 
sister of Selim III, and from what we know of his work up the 
Bosphorus and in the Summer Palace, we should be thankful that 
political events prevented him from achieving his object, and rob- 
bing one of the most interesting and unique spots in the world of 
what is left of its past history as evidenced by the buildings them- 
selves, not to mention the atmosphere of romance and mystery that 
still pervades these tiny rooms, narrow corridors, rickety staircases, 
broken marble baths, musty store-cupboards, empty courtyards, 
heavily barred windows, and creaky, iron-studded wooden doors. 

If you go there try and get rid of your guide and sit and muse alone 
as I did. Your powers of imagination must be poor indeed if the 
atmosphere of the place remains silent and tells you nothing. Natur- 
ally you should read up as much as possible before the visit ; you will 
be rewarded a thousandfold. 

Interesting as the harem rooms open to the public are,^ only half 
the story is told until the closed ones have been inspected as well. 
But most interesting of all, I think, are the rooms of the upper 
stories. Here the personal atmosphere reigns supreme, and when we 
actually stand in the boudoirs and bedrooms of members of the 
harem, and realize that we are in the most secret and forbidden spot 
of a people whose name was once a terror to Europe, our perspective 
begins to change and we feel like intruders, and a sense of reverence 
mingled with what almost amounts to fear takes hold of us. 

But we are anticipating. 

' In 1935-36 they were, apart from the black eunuchs' quarters and the Princes' 
School, the suite and courtyard of the Sultan VaUde, the Corridor of the Bath, the Sultan's 
bathroom, and the rooms used by Selim III and Abd ul-Hamid I. 


It is not easy to say exactly where the harem begins and where it 
ends, or how distinct it was in the early days from the selamlik. That 
the two approached each other very closely architecturally is obvious 
from an inspection of the buildings as they are to-day. Roughly 
speaking, the ' general ' portion lay directly north-west of the black 
eunuchs' quarters, while the various suites were in the vicinity of the 
courtyard of the Sultan Valide, or Queen-Mother, along the south- 
eastern side of which ran the Golden Road, connecting the selamlik 
with the courtyard of the black eunuchs and the Hall of the Divan. 
If the wall between the two Royal bathrooms (Nos. 79 and 80) 
was prolonged in both directions it would mark roughly the dividing 
line between harem and selamlik. 

There were two outer gates connecting with the main door of the 
harem. The first of these (No. 30) has already been mentioned as that 
near the Divan Tower, known as the Carriage Gate, since it was here 
that the ladies entered their carriages on those rather rare occasions 
when they went out for an airing. The second outer gate (No. 40), 
known usually as the Ku§hane Kapisi, or Gate of the Aviary, led 
from the western comer of the Third Court, and acted chiefly as 
a service gate. A narrow passage leads round to the main door 
{Ciimlekapisi) which gives immediate access to the Nobetyeri, or Guard- 
room (No. 42). As can be seen from the plan, this room occupies a 
very important point strategically, as it is necessary to pass through 
it in order to reach every part of the harem. In one comer is 
the entrance to the Golden Road, while from the opposite side the 
courtyard of the Sultan Valide and the courtyard and rooms of the 
harem slaves are reached. 

The quarters of the harem slaves can be discussed first. They are 
divided into two separate sections, the first being next to the Nohet- 
yeri, and the other right round the comer to the left. It should be 
pointed out that whereas this first building (No. 43) is described by 
the Director of the Seraglio as " the apartments of the women slaves," 
it is impossible to say if this was always so, and I am of the opinion 
that although some members of the harem occupied all three floors, 
they were not always of the lowest class, but, owing to the very 
position of the building, were in aU probability kadins, and each 
floor would constitute a suite. In later years it is quite likely that 



changes occurred, but the majority of the rooms of the harem slaves 
were clustered round the courtyard to the left (No. 44), and by their 
communal nature are much more fitted to the housing of a large 
body of women than is the first building. Immediately behind is a 
square reservoir, supplying the neighbouring fountains and baths. 

As we turn to the left the courtyard of the harem slaves appears, 
and it was at the entrance to it that I took the photograph repro- 
duced in the plate opposite p. 156. 

An arcade of nine arches, supported by as many pillars with lotus 
capitals, lines the whole of the left side and farther end (No. 44). 
The ground floor on this side is occupied by the kitchen, baths, and 
stairway leading to the bedrooms on the first floor, which extend all 
round the far end of the courtyard and, as we shall see later, com- 
municate by a well with others on the ground floor. The kitchen is 
a small room immediately to the left opposite the second and third 
pillars, and needs no description, as it is entirely dismantled and used 
as a storeroom. Next this is the hamam, consisting of two rooms of 
unequal size, both originaUy lined with white marble, as shown by 
sections which still remain in situ at odd places. The basins are in a 
good state of preservation. There is a small window let into the 
wall between the two rooms used as a lamp niche. At the back of 
the smaller room is a lavatory of the usual type, consisting merely of 
marble foot-pieces and a sunken receptacle behind. Farther down the 
court are the rooms of the harem commissary and the coflee-maker. 

On the opposite side of the court, not shown in the photograph, 
are three long, narrow rooms, occupied by the Head Nurse, the 
Mistress of the harem, and the Chief Laundress, and another large 
room apparently shared by other members of the harem stafl". I can- 
not guarantee the allocation of these rooms, as the information given 
me in the Seraglio was not at all clear and may only refer to com- 
paratively recent times. 

The most interesting of the rooms is that of the Head Nurse, 
which is divided by a small toilet and large cupboard into two almost 
equal parts. The first of these has some fme tiling on the walls. The 
second contains six painted wall cupboards and two windows lead- 
ing on to a balcony. I was informed that the cradles of the Sultan's 
numerous progeny were put out here for an airing. It is certainly 



a most delightful spot, looking straight out on to the gardens, with 
the Bosphorus ahead and the Marmora to the right. A most beauti- 
ful golden cradle encrusted with precious stones {Murassa altin he§ik) 
is to be seen in the Seraglio Museum. 

It would appear that certain alterations have occurred, because in an 
old picture each of these three rooms had a separate balcony, and 
to-day there is only one long balcony, as the photograph reproduced 
opposite p. 102 shows. Adjoining the Head Nurse's room is a double 
doorway opening on to a flight of stone steps which lead under the 
building to the gardens below. Farther along past the room of the 
Mistress of the harem is another double door, through which access 
is gained to the harem hospital, but I shall return to that below. 

As already mentioned, the staircase on the left of the courtyard 
leads up to the girls' bedrooms. Beyond a small lavatory on a half- 
landing a narrow passage is soon reached at the top of the stairs, 
off which lead several small rooms, apparently the suite of the 
Mistress on night duty. The main room at the end of the passage is 
interesting from several points of view. Its walls are extremely 
thick, with three double windows heavily barred and three mattress 
cupboards on the garden side, three more windows on the courtyard 
side closer together, and three more mattress cupboards on the con- 
necting side to the right. Eight short pillars with lotus capitals, too 
heavy for the room, support the ceiling, and enclose a parapet 
protecting a large rectangular opening through which nearly the 
whole of the ground-floor room can be seen. This lower room is 
also a large bedroom, lined with mattress cupboards, and here some 
of the original mattresses can still be seen in a sad state of repair. A 
small lavatory and water-tap complete the fittings of the upstairs 
room. The girls' mattresses would be laid out in a row right round 
the wall opening, and the Mistress would fmd it easy to control the 
occupants of both floors by this simple arrangement. Mention might 
be made of a small parasol box or cupboard at the angle of the passage 
just outside the door of the first room at the top of the stairs. 

Returning to the courtyard and crossing over to the other side, 
we come to the double doors leading to a long flight of fifty-three 
stone steps, broken at intervals to form small landings giving access 
to rooms on both sides connected with the so-called harem hospital, 



to which they ultimately lead. On reaching the bottom one fmds 
oneself in a charming courtyard full of trees, surrounded by an 
arched colonnade supported on eight square columns each side, but 
none at either end. It would be hard to imagine a more sequestered 
or unexpected spot. Hidden away on the lower side of the hill, 
reached only by a secret staircase under the other buildings, and visible 
only from the Head Nurse's balcony, this little courtyard and its 
surrounding rooms are as romantic as they are fascinating, even if 
they did constitute a hospital, which I am inclined to doubt. The 
rooms themselves vary in depth and size, mainly owing to the slope 
of the outside wall. They occupy two floors, the entrance to the 
second floor being gained from the first landing up the steps again. 
The present condition of the rooms is deplorable, and as many of 
them are entirely without windows, or have them blocked up or 
shuttered, it is difficult to inspect them in any detail — especially as 
the masses o£ debris hinder progress, besides which some of the floors 
and ceilings have holes in them, and the danger of falling slats, plaster, 
and masonry is by no means negligible. However, the general im- 
pression is favourable as far as the facihties provided for the running 
of quarters of this size are concerned. On the ground floor there is a 
series of deep dark rooms to the right, now devoid of all decoration. 
Following the rooms round the courtyard from right to left, one 
comes to a large hamam of considerable artistic interest. Several 
beautiful marble fountains are to be seen, some still in situ. The 
amount of broken masonry and rubbish is, however, so great that 
it is practically impossible to state the exact extent and condition of 
the marble flooring and panelling. 

Continuing round the far comer, we observe that two floors of 
rooms occupy this shorter side, and appear to be the kitchen quarters 
— the coflee-room and bedrooms of the kitchen staff'. The kitchen 
itself lies to the left, a large high room on the ground floor, capable 
of providing for fifty people at the least. Remains of ovens and 
serving-tables can still be recognized among the debris. Next the 
kitchen is a large toilet-room containing five separate lavatories and 
a considerable space for washing and minor ablutions. The other 
rooms on this side closely resemble those opposite. They would 
appear, however, to be sitting-rooms rather than bedrooms. 



The rooms on the first floor are for the most part small — obviously 
more bedrooms — except for another kitchen, and one of somewhat 
different proportions, which may possibly have been occupied by the 
matron. Most of the bedrooms are unsafe to walk in, and the visitor 
has to be content with standing at the threshold. From a small 
second landing a little yard can be seen connecting with some of the 
basement rooms, while on looking upward to the right we can 
distinguish the balcony of the Head Nurse's rooms. It is now realized 
how low down the hospital lies, for although this is the first floor, the 
Nurse's rooms far above us are on the ground floor of the main 

Owing to the size, extent, and fittings of this so-called harem 
hospital, I cannot help wondering if it was always used as such, for 
it is much larger than the quarters of the harem girls, which hardly 
seems reasonable. The size of the baths, kitchens, and toilets suggests a 
busy crowded quarter continually in full working order rather than a 
hospital for which numbers would vary greatly, and which in itself 
hardly seems to agree with what little we know of the very secret way 
in which a Seraglio doctor was introduced to the room of a sick girl. 

So much, then, for the entire quarters of the main body of the harem 
girls, or slaves as they are often called. Everybody was a slave of the 
Sultan, so that the term must not be taken too literally. The harder 
work was done almost entirely by negresses, whose lodgings were 
for the most part in the basements under the main building. The 
work allotted to the other girls varied according as to how far they 
had got in their training, which was an important part of the harem 
system, and to which I shall return in the next chapter. The remain- 
ing portions of the harem are devoted to the courtyard and suite of 
the Sultan Valide, the adjacent rooms comiected with her retinue and 
the management of the harem, and the suites for specially favoured 
kadins. Such a suite would appear to have once existed in what is 
now described as the Sultanahmet Ko^kii (No. 63 in our plan). The 
entrance lies almost exactly opposite the first row of columns in the 
girls' courtyard. 

A steep flight of steps leads into a long and very high rectangular 
room now devoid of all decoration. Such a high room is quite 
out of keeping with the rest of the building, and at once suggests 



the collapse of at least one floor and subsequent partial renovation. 
High up in the corner is a small balcony, bright with coloured wood- 
work. Behind this is a landing with a few steps leading to a charm- 
ing Httle painted room looking out over the suite of the Sultan Valide 
towards the Bosphorus. The style and decoration of the room, its 
pretty rounded shape, with its many windows and gaily coloured 
paintings of Italian gardens, proclaim it to be a kind of summer 
kiosk free to catch the breezes from the Bosphorus and Marmora and 
far removed from the inquisitive gaze of the less lucky members of 
the Imperial harem. The room is in bad repair, and merits immediate 
attention, as in its own quiet way it is a little gem. 

From the square courtyard of the Sultan Valide access can be 
gained to her suite of four rooms. They consist of a small waiting- 
room to the right, a corridor room leading to the dining-room 
(yemek odasi), and a bedroom {yatak odasi) leading off to the left with 
a sofa lounge looking out towards the Bosphorus. All these rooms 
are open to the public, and so need Httle description here. They are 
for the most part beautifully tiled with large floral designs ; painted 
and gilded ceilings and baroque gilded carvings show later additions. 
A few carpets remain, but little else. This, then, is the most im- 
portant, if not the most intriguing, part of the harem. From here the 
whole SeragHo, and at times the whole Turkish Empire, was ruled. 
These tiny silent rooms could indeed a tale unfold, and we cannot 
help feeling privileged to see them at all, even in their altered, dis- 
mantled state. The courtyard has also undergone many changes, as 
the sudden discontinuance of the Turkish arches and pillars bearing 
the lotus capital clearly shows. A little tiling surrounding and lining a 
large niche to the right of the Sultan Valide's doorway is all that 
remains of what must have once extended much farther round the 
courtyard. The opposite side forms the inner wall of the Golden 
Road, while in the northern corner entrance is gained to the Vesti- 
bule of the Hearth {Ocakli Sofa) and the Vestibule of the Fountain 
{(^e§meli Sofa). Here we are really outside the harem, but it is 
difficult to draw hard-and-fast rules, as considerable architectural 
changes occurred in this part towards the end of the seventeenth 
century. For instance, that part now occupied in the plan by Nos. 
72 and 73 is described in the official guide-books as Ba§kadin ve 



Kadinlar Dariesi (suite of the Chief Kadin and of the kadins). Thus this 
was obviously part of the harem, but in the seventeenth century it 
seems that a portion of it was separated off and used to form the 
Vestibule of the Hearth (No. 70) so as to connect the Hiinkar Sofasi 
(No. 77) with the courtyard of the Sultan Valide. The door lead- 
ing from the courtyard (No. 69) was known as the Gate of the 
Throne [Taht Kapisi). The Ba§kadin room is now filled with debris 
of various kinds, but some of the original decoration is still visible. 

The Ocakli Sofa, on the other hand, has been well preserved, and 
contains completely tiled walls surrounded by a Cufic cornice, a 
very fme brass chimney with conical canopy and pierced fire-guard. 
There is also a charming wall fountain, while the doors are of some 
dark wood — possibly ebony — iulaid with mother-of-pearl. 

The neighbouring rooms all belong to the seldmlik, and will be 
discussed in a later chapter. The furnace-room and so-called bath of 
the Sultan, situated near the Sultan Valide's suite, will be described 
in the chapter on the baths (see pp. 205-206). The connecting link 
between the seldmlik and the harem was the Golden Road, a long cor- 
ridor which displays on its walls some of the most lovely tile decora- 
tion in existence. At the end of the chapter on the walls and kiosks 
I mentioned how the Turkish tile industry originated in the fifteenth 
century, reached its height of perfection during the sixteenth, and 
died out in the first half of the eighteenth century. Three separate 
periods can be recognized, of which the Chinili Kaosk is the best 
example of the first, while in the second the finest work was pro- 
duced, and no better examples can be found than those in the 
Golden Road of the Seraglio. The advance over the first-period 
work is very noticeable. The range of colours has increased, and the 
glaze has reached the utmost degree of brilliance. Yellow has dis- 
appeared, but its place is taken by a series of lovely reds, varying 
from a true scarlet to a coral- or tomato-red. These reds stand out 
in slight relief, and are an indication of tilework at its zenith. A 
lovely panel from the Golden Road (dated 1575) was reproduced as 
•Plate XXIV in Tahsin Chukru's article already mentioned. "It is 
impossible," he writes, 

to examine these tiles without delight, for the ground is of the purest 
white, the glazes flawless, the draughtmanship is strong, the colours 



1 60 


do not merge with one another or run in the glaze, the pigments are 
perfect ; they have been endowed by the fire with power of vivacity. 

The great advance in the tile industry at this time was due to Sinan, 
whose architectural masterpieces prompted a parallel advance in 
decorative art. 

Beginning at the Guard-room of the harem, the Golden Road runs 
along one side of the Sultan VaHde's courtyard, and continues on 
between the suite of the kadins and the harem mosque, past the court- 
yard of the Kafes, or Cage, until it reaches the pillared hall near the 
PaviHon of the Holy Mantle. 

This completes the survey of the harem rooms. Before discussing 
the administration and general customs of the harem I shall turn to 
the question of female costume. 

In the chapter dealing with the black eunuchs, after briefly describ- 
ing the costume of the Kislar Agha, I referred to the collection of 
figures now on view in the church of St Irene, in the First Court, 
and remarked that many of the costumes had become mixed up or 
been incorrectly repaired. To a considerable extent matters can be 
rectified (if nothing has been done officially since 1935) by a study of 
the many fme works on Turkish costume, and by photographs of 
the tableaux of the figures before they started on their wanderings 
(see p. 131) — photographs still to be obtained in Constantinople. It 
is interesting to note that among the 143 figures in the collection no 
woman is represented, even in outdoor dress, so that no idea of the 
harem costumes can be obtained at all. As compared with the mag- 
nificent costumes of the Turkish officials, it may be that the female 
dress is simple and uninteresting. Outdoors the women appeared to 
be Httle more than a hobbling bundle of rather drab-looking clothes, 
but the harem could tell a very different story, and so I will devote 
the rest of this chapter to a somewhat detailed consideration of the 
whole subject. But first of all a word of a general nature may be 

In studying Turkish costume it should be remembered that several 
factors have played their part in producing such an unparalleled array 
of gorgeous clothes — from the gold and scarlet of the sailors to the 
brocade and sable robes of the nobles. 
L 161 


Among the early Sultans Orkhan devoted much time to the 
regulation of the cut and colours of the garments and the different 
forms of turbans, and costume became the distinguishing mark of 
rank among the ruling race, as well as the token of creed among the 
subject nations. As time went on the costumes grew still more 
elaborate, and with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire new posts 
were created and new uniforms became necessary. With the capture 
of Constantinople many Byzantine costumes were closely copied, 
and so the Turkish love of pomp and display found a fresh source 
from which to borrow. 

By the time of Suleiman costume was no longer merely a matter 
of custom and tradition. It became law. In the Kanuni Teshrifat, 
or Law of Ceremonies, regulations concerning the colour, shape, 
materials, length, and breadth of robes and turbans were clearly laid 
down. The order of precedence and the observances proper to all 
occasions were also a matter of law. 

The story of Constantinople has been described as a costume 
drama, and surely this is no exaggeration in a country where rules 
regarding costume and Court etiquette are not merely unwritten 
laws, but are given the rank and authority of Imperial laws. "All 
the classes of members of the Sultan's household," writes Lybyer, 

all the high officers of government, and all the separate bodies of troops 
in the standing army were clearly distinguished from each other by 
costume or head-dress or by both. Each group, and every officer in 
each group, had his exact place in every ceremonial assembly and his 
exact rank in every procession.^ 

The ceremonies were as numerous as they were varied — whether 
it was the reception of a foreign ambassador, one of the feasts of 
Bairdm, the sailing of the fleet, the setting out of the army, or the 
circumcision of the Sultan's heir. Each would be the occasion for 
one of the most splendid exhibitions of costume the world had ever 
seen. Some very shght idea can be obtained from the Sultan's Bairdm 
procession to the mosque, as shown in the illustration opposite p. 94, 
but this was nothing to the more important and personal ceremonies, 
such as the circumcision of the heir to the throne. In all this pageantry 

' The Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent, 
p. 135. 



of dress and ceremonial the part played by women was small indeed. 
A woman was not meant to be seen by any man except her husband, 
and that was the end of it ! Yet time has proved that the very regula- 
tions of feminine costume greatly assisted the clandestine meetings 
of wives with their lovers. A husband would be quite unable to 
recognize his oaaoi wife in the street, and to touch or speak to a 
woman publicly would, of course, be unthinkable. Her veil and 
cloak were as sacred as the doors of the harem. And so even with 
women law was clearly established and recognized. In the Seraglio 
regulations regarding costume were followed as closely as those 
applying to the male officials in the town. Each season demanded 
an entire change of raiment, and the Sultan never saw any member 
of the harem twice in the same dress. The greatest care was naturally 
taken with the outdoor costume when trips up the Bosphorus were 
made, or shopping excursions indulged in during the reigns of the 
more lenient Sultans. It will be realized how difficult it was to obtain 
any account of the indoor costumes, and even in the Seraglio itself 
it was only the eunuchs who saw them. Thus travellers were depend- 
ent for their information on such descriptions as friendly eunuchs 
chanced to give, either direct or through other members of the 
SeragUo. For, after all, it was the woman and not the dress that was 
taboo. Another possible source of information would be through 
the clothes-dealers, both new and second-hand, and odd information 
and scandal would doubtless be obtained in the market-place from 
the Jewesses who sold trinkets, ribbons, and lace to the Seraglio. 

As is the case in so many dealings with the Turks, we owe the first 
descriptions to Italians. The earliest I can find is that by Bassano da 
Zara {c. 1540), while the first drawings are those by Nicolas de 
Nicolay (155 1). Bassano deals chiefly with the outdoor costume, as 
is only to be expected, but discusses at random such kindred subjects 
as ' make-up ' and the depilatory. Some of the words in the text do 
not appear in dictionaries, but I have added notes where necessary : 

In Turkey the women, whether Christian, Turk, or Jewish, dress 
themselves very richly in silk. They wear cloaks ^ down to the ground 
Hned just like those of the men. They wear closed-up boots, but fitting 

' Casacche — i.e., casacca, a 'long cloak,' and also a 'jacket.' Similar words are casaca 
cazeta, meaning the same thing, while casacchino is a lady's cape. 



tighter to the ankle and more arched than those of the men. All wear 
trousers ; the chemises are of very fme linen, some having them of 
muslin, some white, and some dyed red, yellow, or blue. They are 
fond of black hair, and if any woman by nature does not possess it she 
acquires it by artificial means. If they are fair or grey through old age 
they use a red dye Hke that with which horses tails are dyed. It is 
called ChnaJ- The same is used on their nails, sometimes the whole 
hand, sometimes the foot following the shape of the shoe, and again 
some dye the pubic region and four fmgers' length above it. And for 
this reason they remove the hairs, considering it a sin to have any in 
the private parts. They decorate their hair with small bands of ribbon 
and leave them spread out over their shoulders, and falling over their 
dress. Covering their hair they have a coloured strip of thin silk (as 
wide as a priest's stole) with a httle fringe at the edges. On the head 
they also have a small round cap, neat and close-fitting, embroidered 
with satin, damask, or silk and coloured. Many of them wear one of 
velvet or brocade, to which the above-mentioned stole is attached. I 
have seen some women who fasten the stole to a httle white cap, and 
then put one of silk on the top of that. It is not more than half a palm 
in height. They use cosmetics more than any other nation I have seen. 
They paint their eyebrows with black stuff, very thick; and I have 
noticed some of them make their two look hke one by painting the 
space between, a thing which (in my opinion) is very unsightly.* 
They paint their lips red, which I think they learned from the Greek 
women or from those of Pera, who devote much attention to this. 
They have big breasts and crooked feet, and this comes from their 
sitting on the ground cross-wise. For the most part they are fat 
because they eat a lot of rice with buUock's meat and butter, much more 
than the men do. They do not drink wine, but sugared water, or 
Cervosa [herb-beer] made in their own manner. Christian women 
who hve in Turkish houses, for whatever reason, have to give up wine. 
When they go out of doors over the cloak or Dullimano, which they 
ordinarily wear, they put a chemise of the whitest linen. Just as with 
the regular clerics among us, it is of such a nature that one can only 

' I.e., henna, the khanna of the Egyptians and kena of the modem Greeks (ancient 
KV7rpo<i, as it grew in Cyprus). 

* Just as in the case of henna, which is a good preventive against perspiration, so cer- 
tain forms of eye-black {kol^l, surma, ksjal, tutia, etc.) give coohiess to the eyes and help to 
prevent ophthalmia, as well as being a guard against the evil eye. The meeting of the 
eyebrows, while considered beautiful in Muhammadan countries, is not liked among the 
Hindus, and in Iceland, Denmark, Germany, Greece, and Bohemia it is considered a sign 
of a werewolf or vampire. See on the whole subject of ' make-up ' my article in vol. i of 
the Ocean of Story, Appendix II, "Collyrium and Kohl," pp. 211-218, and the note at 
pp. 103-104 of vol. ii of the same work. 



see half an arm's length of the cloak. The garment is hke a surpHce 
with tight sleeves long enough to cover the entire hand, so that one 
cannot even see the nails, and they do this because in Turkey neither 
man nor woman wears gloves whatever the weather may be. They 
wear a towel" round the neck and head, so that one can only see their 
eyes and mouth, and these they cover with a thin silk scarf a palm's 
width each way, through which they can see and not be seen by others. 
The scarf is fastened with three pins^ to a suitable part of the head 
above the forehead, so that when they go through the streets and meet 
other women, they raise the scarf that hangs over their faces and kiss 
one another. These scarfs are of silk, as wide as towels, Hke those the 
men also wear, and are called Chussech. This then, that you have read, 
is their dress with which they are so covered that one cannot even see 
a finger-nail, and this is because the Turks are more jealous than any 
other nation. 3 

Before giving a detailed description of each article of clothing I 
will add one or two more accounts for the sake of comparison, and 
in order to cover a greater period of time and to introduce as many 
names as possible. First of all I will quote from Nicolas de Nicolay, 
who unfortunately gives no description in his text, but simply refers 
readers to the drawings. He visited Constantinople in 155 1, and 
managed to get some of the dresses put on certain pubhc women to 
enable him to make his " draughtes and protractes " correctly. After 
stating that only the Chief Eunuch could ever see the women 
he adds : 

And therefore to fmde the meanes to represent vnto you the maner 
of their apparrel I fel famiharly acquainted with an Eunuche of the 
late Barbarousse called zaferaga of nation a Ragusan, being a man of 
great discretion & a louer of vertue, which from his tender age had 
been brought vp within the Serail, who, so soone as he had perceiued 
that I was desirous to see the fashion of the attyre and apparrell of these 
women, to satisfie my mind, caused to be clothed two pubhque 
Turkish women, with very rich apparrell, which hee sent for [from] 
the Bezestan whereas there is too be solde of all sortes, by the which 
I made the draughtes and protractes heere represented vnto you.* 

* Sciugatoio — i.e., asciugatoio, meaning a ' bath towel,' * napkin,' or ' antimacassar.' Here 
it is apparently a cloth or woollen under-scarf 

* Acucchie. I cannot find this word, but it would seem to be connected with acuire, * to 

' I Costumi et i modi particolari de la vita de Turchi (Roma, 1545), pp. 6-7. 

* P. 53 uerso of the Enghsh and p. 67 of the French edition. 



The elaborate embroideries and incrustation of jewels in which 
most of the girls became adept can only be imagined, although a good 
idea of the work can be obtained from some of the pieces of material 
in the SeragHo Museum. As a general rule the dress of the harem 
girls corresponded, as far as the actual articles of attire were con- 
cerned, with those worn by the ordinary Turkish lady of standing. 
The rich brocades made in Brusa were well known, and it is clearly 
this material that Nicolay represents in his drawings of the Sultan 
VaUde and gentlewoman in her serail.^ There is a special copy of 
a 1572 German translation of the work at the British Museum;^ it 
is elaborately coloured and illuminated. It gives a remarkably good 
idea of the richness of the brocades. The Sultan Valide is represented 
as wearing a tunic with the ends tucked up, displaying a long under- 
garment open at the front and about eight inches from the ground. 
A broad sash is tied round the waist. The sleeves are tight-fitting, 
with strips of brocade hanging from the shoulders. The gentle- 
woman wears a similar tunic with a row of buttons in firont. Both 
the under-chemise and the trousers show, which was not so in the 
Sultana's costume. The sash and shoulder strips are similar to the 
above. Each article of clothing should be identified, with its Turkish 
name, by reference to my Hst later on in this chapter. As already 
mentioned, writers on women's costume could give only second- or 
third-hand information as far as the harem was concerned, and would 
never be able to see the costumes actually worn by their owners. 

There was, however, one exception. Our old friend Dallam, 
whom we met in chapter ii, actually saw some of the harem girls 
through a wall grating, and gives this account of his adventure: 

When he had showed me many other thinges which I wondered at, 
than crossinge throughe a litle squar courte paved with marble, he 
poynted me to goo to a graite in a wale, but made me a sine that he 
myghte not goo thether him selfe. When I came to the grait the wale 
was verrie thicke, and graited on bothe the sides with iron verrie 
strongly; but through that graite I did se thirtie of the Grand Sinyor's 
Concobines that weare playinge with a bale in another courte. At the 
firste sighte of them I thoughte they had bene yonge men, but when 

' Facing pp. 67 and 68 of the French edition and at p, 52 and 54 of the EngUsh edition. 
* C. 55. i. 4. The illumination is the work of the contemporary Nuremberger 
Georg Mack. See G. K. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten, vol. iii. p. 53. 





I saw the hare of their heades hange doone on their backes, platted 
together with a tasle of smale pearle hanginge in the lower end of it, 
and by other plaine tokens, I did know them to be women, and verrie 
prettie ones in deede. 

Theie wore upon theire heades nothinge bute a little capp of clothe 
of goulde, which did but cover the crowne of her heade; no bandes a 
boute their neckes, nor anythinge but faire cheans of pearle and a juell 
hanginge on their breste, and juels in their ears ; their coats weare Uke 
a souldier's mandilyon,^ som of reed sattan and som of blew, and som 
of other coUors, and grded hke a lace of contraire collor ; they wore 
britchis of scamatie,^ a fine clothe made of coton woll, as whyte as 
snow and as fine as lane;^ for I could desame the skin of their thies 
throughe it. These britchis cam doone to their mydlege; som of 
them did weare fine cordevan buskins, and som had their leges naked, 
with a goulde ringe on the smale of her legg ; on her foute a velvett 
panttoble * 4 or 5 inches hie. I stood so longe loukinge upon them 
that he which had showed me all this kindnes began to be verrie angrie 
with me. He made a wrye mouthe, and stamped with his foute to 
make me give over looking; the which I was verrie lothe to dow, 
for that sighte did please me wondrous well.^ 

Before giving my own list I should like to include a description by 
a lady who actually wore the costume. It would be impossible to 
choose anybody better than Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who in 
a letter to her sister on April i, 171 7, writes as follows : 

The first piece of my dress is a pair of drawers, very full, that reach 
to my shoes, and conceal the legs more modestly than your petticoats. 
They are of a thin rose-coloured damask, brocaded with silver flowers, 
my shoes are of white kid leather, embroidered with gold. Over this 
hangs my smock, of a fine white silk gauze, edged with embroidery. 
This smock has wide sleeves, hanging half way down the arm, and is 
closed at the neck with a diamond button ; but the shape and colour 
of the bosom very well to be distinguished through it. The antery 
is a waistcoat, made close to the shape, of white and gold damask, with 
very long sleeves falling back, and fringed with deep gold fringe, and 
should have diamond or pearl buttons. My caftan, of the same stuff 
with my drawers, is a robe exacdy fitted to my shape, and reaching 

' Mandilion — i.e., a soldier's cloak. " A mandilion that did with button meet " (Chap- 
man, Iliad, x). 

* Scamatie, derived from the Italian scamatare, 'to beat off the dust of wool.* 
3 Muslin or lawn. 

♦ The high shoe is still worn by Turkish women. 

s Early Voyages and Travels in the Levant, pp. 74-75. 



to my feet, with very long strait falling sleeves. Over this is the girdle, 
of about four fingers broad which aU that can afford have entirely of 
diamonds or other precious stones; those who will not be at that 
expense, have it of exquisite embroidery on satin; but it must be 
fastened before with a clasp of diamonds. The curdee is a loose robe 
they throw off or put on according to the weather, being of a rich 
brocade (mine is green and gold), either lined with ermine or sables; 
the sleeves reach very httle below the shoulders. The head-dress is 
composed of a cap, called talpock, which is in winter of fine velvet 
embroidered with pearls or diamonds, and in summer of a hght 
shining silver stuff. This is fixed on one side of the head, hanging a 
litde way down with a gold tassel, and bound on, either with a circle 
of diamonds (as I have seen several) or a rich embroidered handker- 
chief. On the other side of the head, the hair is laid flat ; and here the 
ladies are at liberty to shew their fancies ; some putting flowers, others 
a plume of heron's feathers, and, in short, what they please ; but the 
most general fashion is a large bouquet of jewels, made hke natural 
flowers ; that is, the buds of pearl ; the rose, of different coloured 
rubies; the jessamines, of diamonds; the jonquils, of topazes, etc., so 
well set and enamelled, 'tis hard to imagine anything of that kind so 
beautiful. The hair hangs at its fuU length behind, divided into tresses 
braided with pearl or ribbon, which is always in great quantity. 

As we are now acquainted with several accounts of the dress of 
Turkish women, both indoor and outdoor, I shall attempt to list 
all the several articles of clothing in the order worn, giving their 
modern spellings first, and explain as fully as possible their nature 
and use. As far as I can gather the mode seems to have altered Httle 
during the centuries. Certain articles have had different names at 
different times, and a word originally applied only to a material was 
later used for the garment, and so on. But generally speaking altera- 
tions have been slight. Some of the older words do not appear in 
modem dictionaries, but I shall add variations of spelling wherever 

I. Gomlek, formerly giumlik. This is a loose shirt or chemise 
made either of a mixture of cotton and wool or, among the richer, 
of silk gauze, usually white, but also found in red, yellow, and blue. 
Formerly it was left open in front as far as the waist, exposing the 
breasts, but later the fashion was modified, and jewellery closed the 
garment at the neck and across the bosom. The sleeves are wide and 
loose, edged with satin or lace {oya). It extended only as far as the 



knees, and was sometimes tucked into the dizlik, or drawers, but 
apparently more usually hung loosely over them. 

2. Dizliky dyslik. This garment, deriving its name from diz, * knee,' 
and so meaning ' knee-things,' is a pair of linen drawers, cut very wide 
and drawn close round the waist by an ugkur (formerly outchkoor), a 
tape or string passing through the top edge, as in our modern pyjamas. 
They do not appear to have been always worn as well as the §alvar, 
which latter garment formed the " first piece " of Lady Mary Wortley 
Montagu's costume. They are short drawers, tied at the knee, and 
to-day the word is used to express the modern 'shorts.' 

3. Salvar, shalwar. These are the outer trousers, or, if the dizlik is 
not worn, the only trousers or drawers. They are very loosely cut 
indeed, being some three yards wide at the waist. Drawn together 
at the waist by an ugkur (very elaborate and richly embroidered among 
the well-to-do), they are looped up below the knees, and fall in 
folds to the ankles. Other varieties reach directly dov^oi to the 
ankles, especially if the dizlik is also worn. They are of all materials 
and all colours. In the Seragho the women vie with each other in 
the beauty of their §alvar. The fmest Brusa brocades, purfled with 
gold and silver thread, are largely used, and as about eight yards are 
necessary they can be very expensive garments. The name kaftan or 
caftan was appHed to the length of embroidered material used, but 
by extension also to the resulting garment ; thus Lady Mary Wortley 
Montagu employed the word to describe her entari, or outer garment. 
The name kaftan was also used for the robe of honour, because of 
its being covered with embroidery. 

4. Yelek. This is perhaps best described as a lady's waistcoat, thus 
corresponding to the men's yelek, which is simply an embroidered 
silk waistcoat. If, however, the ye/efe was provided with arms and 
trailed on the ground, as sometimes was the case, it practically became 
an entari, the next article I shall try to describe. In all cases the yelek 
fits closely to the figure, and usually has a row of little buttons close 
together, starting at the bosom and reaching a Httle below the waist. 
In the long yelek the sides are open from the hips, and the sleeves are 
tight-fitting, but open at the wrist. 

5. Entari, entary, antery. This is the gown — the most important 
article of the harem indoor costume. At the back it fits very tightly, 



and has even been described as a corset, while, as we have seen, Lady 
Mary Wortley Montagu says, "The antery is a waistcoat, made close to 
the shape ..." It is in reahty neither a corset nor a waistcoat, for in 
either case the garment would have to be laced or buttoned in front. 
Now the entari is wide open in front, and in the days when the open 
gotnlek was in fashion the bosom remained entirely exposed. It was 
joined, however, at the waist by three or four pearl or diamond 
buttons set closely together, as in men's modem single-breasted 
evening waistcoats. It was the presence of these buttons that enabled 
the back of the entari to fit tightly, and so to appear (to some writers) 
like a corset or waistcoat. 

The sleeves are tight from the shoulders to below the elbow, at 
which point they are open and, being very long, hang down nearly 
to the ground. The sleeve of the gotnlek is thus exposed from the 
elbow to the wrist. 

At the waist the entari becomes fuller, and is open at both sides. 
It is some two or three feet longer than the wearer, and for walking 
the ends are tucked up into the waist girdle, or ku§ak, to be described 
next. But among the ladies of the harem little walking was necessary, 
and the ends of the gown would be gracefully draped over the edge 
of the sofa or divan. The material of the entari closely resembled that 
used for the §alvar, the finest embroidered Brusa brocade being used 
in the old days, while in more modern times damasks, silks, satins, 
and brocades were imported from Venice, Lyons, and other places 
by the Greeks, Jews, and especially the Armenians. It was the 
Armenians who became expert in manufacturing braiding (arj) of 
gold and silk, which added greatly to the richness of the entari. 

From the above description it wiU be clearly seen that the yelek 
and the entari are practically the same garment. A close inspection 
of some of the sixteenth-century drawings — e.g., those of Nicolay, 
Lonicer, VeceUio, Jost Amman, Boissard, Bry and BerteUi — appears 
to show a simple waistcoat form of the yelek, cut low and revealing 
the gomlek underneath modestly closed and shghtly gathered, with 
the entari worn as an over-robe. However correct or incorrect these 
early drawings are, and however much should be allowed for artistic 
licence and the making of a pretty and acceptable drawing for 
Western tastes, it is fairly obvious that it was quite possible to dis- 




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pense with one of the two garments in question, and that only the 
rich would ever possess both. 

6. Ku§ak, kooshak, the chussech of Bassano da Zara. This is a waist- 
shawl or girdle made of wool, caUco, linen, or silk according to the 
taste or status of the wearer. In the harem it is loose, and worn very 
wide round the waist and buttocks, or else used as a scarf round the 
shoulders. Among the ' staff' of the harem it serves its proper purpose 
of waist-band, and acts as a receptacle for money, handkerchiefs, 
documents, ink-horns, etc. With the kadins its place is usually taken 
by a jewelled girdle. Apart from the seiman, a wadded jacket, and 
the kurk, a fur pehsse only worn in cold weather, there remain of 
indoor garments but the headdress and shoes to be described. I 
shall discuss the shoes first. 

7. §ip§ip,tchipship. These are house sHppers without heels, pointed 
and slightly curved at the ends. They are of nearly all materials and 
colours, and richly embroidered in gold, pearls, and precious stones. 
Rosettes of pearls, gold cord, and similar decorations are also often 
added on the instep. 

For going out the pabug (papoosh) is worn, which is a strong-soled 
shoe of yellow leather. 

A third shoe, or rather slipper-boot, is the gedik {tchelik) of yellow 
Morocco leather a few inches high in front. For use in the garden 
these shoes might be made of velvet and other similar material. It 
would appear that the "Velvett panttoble 4 or 5 inches hie" of 
Dallam was a particular form of either pa^wf or gedik.^ 

8. Fotaza. This is the indoor headdress, and has been well described 
by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, except that the talpock, or kalpak, 
is an Armenian word, and really refers only to the astrakhan turban 
as worn by the Armenians. There are many varieties, some being of 
cloth and only bordered with astrakhan. Just as the turban consists 
of two separate articles, so does the fotaza. First there is a flat-topped 
little cap (takke) rather like a squat fez, made of the fmest felt or, 
especially in former days, of velvet. A blue or gold tassel spreads 
itself over the crown and falls down to one side. It is worn at a 
jaunty angle at the back of the head and covered with pearls and 

' For names of other kinds of footwear, used chiefly by men, reference should be made 
to EvUyd Efendi, Narrative of Travels, II, pp. 210, 211. 



diamonds, or cheaper jewellery and embroidery among the less rich. 
In close conjunction, and doubled across the front of the cap, is a 
beautifully embroidered muslin handkerchief, known as a yemeni. 
It is used partly to keep the cap in place, but mainly as an additional 
portion of the headdress on which can be fixed more jewellery. 
Large bodkins studded with diamonds and rubies were largely used 
by the kadins, and other jewellery was fastened in the hair, which 
hung to one side in long tresses. Out of doors the headdress is 
completely covered by the upper part of the ya§mak, or veil, to which 
we now turn. 

9. Ya§mak. This is a veil exclusive to Constantinople, and con- 
sists of two pieces of fine muslin or, in more recent days, of tarlatan. 
Each is folded comer-wise, or else only a single thickness is used. 
The first piece is placed across the bridge of the nose, and, passing 
over the mouth and chin and falling on to the bosom, is tied or pinned 
at the nape of the neck. The second piece is placed over the head, being 
brought down in front as far as the eyebrows, while the rest hangs 
behind, and is either tucked in underneath the ferace, or outer robe, 
or else pinned to the other piece of the ya§mak at the nape of the neck. 

As the veil is very thin the features can be quite clearly seen, 
although it is highly important that the whole nose should not be 
exposed, or the lady might be taken for an Armenian — or possibly 
for a prostitute. 

In other parts of the Turkish Empire much heavier and rather ugly 
veils are worn, one of the most common being the mahramah, which 
consists of a kind of caHco petticoat, the upper part of which is 
thrown over the head and held under the chin, while the face is 
entirely concealed by a dark handkerchief. So also the ya§mak differs 
from the Cairene hurko, which is a long piece of black cloth or muslin 
stretching from under the eyes nearly to the ground. Another form 
of Muhammadan veil is the litham, or lisam, but this word is almost 
entirely used for the desert mouth-veil of the Tuaregs (Tawariks) of 
the Sahara; in a poetical sense it is used figuratively, and Arabian 
poets describe dawn as "the day doffing its lisdm.'' Examples of 
aU these veils, as well as the face-screen of black horse-hair used in 
parts of Asia Minor, will be found in the more important works on 
Turkish and Arabian costume. 



10. Ferace, feridje, ferigee. There remains now but to mention the 
loose-sleeve cloak-like garment worn by all Turkish women in the 
streets. It is made of black alpaca among the poor, and of a fme 
broad cloth or hght Merino among the better classes, while the rich, 
or members of the Royal harem, usually have the ferace made of silk 
of some delicate pink or lilac colour. A large square cape hangs 
behind nearly to the ground. The lining among the rich is often 
of black or white satin, and further ornamentation with tassels, 
braiding, and a velvet edging is sometimes worn. 

This, I think, concludes all the articles of clothing worn by the 
Turkish women. ^ 

' Readers interested in the subject I would refer to the bibUography on costume by 
Rene Colas: Bibliographie generale du costume et de la mode (Paris, 1933), 2 vols. Turkey 
and Asia Minor wUl be found fully indexed at the end of vol. ii — pp. 29, 30 of the " Table 
Methodique." Apart from Nicolay I would especially mention tne works by La Chap- 
pclle, Le Hay, Dalvimart — ^whose drawings were nearly aU reproduced in Shoberl's 
World in Miniature (London) — MacBean, Preziosi, and Hamdy-Bey. 

The best text-book on Muhammadan costume is still R. P. A. Dozy, Dictionnaire 
detaille des noms des vetements chez les Arabes (Amsterdam, 1845). 




In considering the harem in detail — its personnel, method of adminis- 
tration, and general manners and customs — it is imperative to realize 
at once that we are not dealing with anything so simple as just a 
few hundred women awaiting the pleasure of the Sultan under the 
watchful eyes of the black eunuchs. On the contrary, the female 
hierarchy o^theharern was a compHcated institution, having a defmite 
and fixed number of officer, witE every woman occupying a distinct 
posit^on^according^to her age, status, andjhe point at which she had 
arrive d in her J^rem education. 

The harem, then, must be regarded as a little kingdom of its own, 
a curious kingdom certainly, but one in which there was a ruler, 
the equivalent of a Prime Minister, a Cabinet, other less important 
officials connected with the governing, and finally the subjects — all 
occupying different positions, but all being given same definite job 
to do with a chance to improve their position as time went on. 

Let us look at conditions as they were when the harem was at its 
height in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
' The ruler of the harem is not the Sultan, nor the head wife or First 
Kadin (recognized concubine), but the Sultan's mother, the Sultan 

The Turks recognize that a man can have many wives, that he can 
get rid of unwanted ones and take others at will, but that he can 
have only one mother, and it is she, therefore, who occupies the 
unique place of honour that nothing can alter save death. To her, 
then, are entrusted the most personal and private belongings of her 
son — his women. The power of the Sultan Vahde is enormous, not ^ 
only in the harem, but throughout the entire Empire. As is only 
to be imagined, there is ceaseless warfare between the Sultan's 4:^ 
mother and^is favourite kadins. The most ambitious woman in the 
harem is not she who is content to reach the high position of First 
Kadin, but she who hopes, plots, and prays to become one day the 



Sultan Valide ; for then she is not merely ruler of the harem and of "^ 
the SeragHo, but, if she is strong and her son weak, may even rule 
the kingdom as well. 

No better example of the power and influence a member of the 
harem might acquire could be given than that of Khurrem, the Russian 
slave girl, better known in Western Europe as Roxelana. In this 
case, however, so great was her influence over Suleiman that the 
question of her becoming Sultan VaUde never arose. Bit by bit 
Roxelana removed all obstacles in her path. About 1541 she had 
persuaded the Sultan to let her hve with him in the Seragho instead 
of remaining in the Old Palace, although at this time she was only 1 -^ 
Second Kadin. After the death of Suleiman's mother only two rivals j '^j- 
remained — the First Kadin, Bosfor Sultan, and Ibrahim, the Grand 
Vizir, who according to some accounts had been the original owner 
of Roxelana. Plots and counter-plots were laid : Bosfor Sultan was 
displaced and practically exiled, her son was murdered in a manner 
that leaves little doubt as to Roxelana's comphcity in the business, 
and Suleiman had the Grand Vizir executed for no apparent reason 
at all. [Although no actual proof was forthcoming to show that 
Roxelana was again instrumental in this latter crime there is no doubt 
whatever that he was definitely in her way to absolute power, and 
she was still afraid of his great influence over the Sultan. 

It had been a triumph when she was allowed to move into the 
Seragho with her train of slave girls and eunuchs ; it was a much 
greater one when she became Suleiman's legal wife. Not since the 
time of Bayezid I {13 89-1403) had any Sultan contracted a legal 
marriage, and this strange act of Suleiman was regarded with 
amazement and concern. In the reign of Selim II (so Bon tells us) 
so enormous was the sum set aside for the Sultan's wife, being suffi- 
cient to build mosques and hospitals, that marriage was not attractive. 
For the same reason the number of the kadins was limited to four. 
From his whole harem, which might consist of anything from 300 
to 1200 women, the Sultan would have his favourites, termed ikbals, 
who would occasionally be honoured by sharing his bed. 

In the event of the birth of a male child and the continued and 
growing affection of the Sultan a lucky ikbal might be raised to the 
coveted rank of a kadin. Although they were not actually married 




the rank of the kadins was equivalent to that of a legal wife, and their 
apartments, slaves, eunuchs, property, dresses, jewellery, and salary 
were all proportional to the honour and importance of their new 
position. According to the order of her election, so would the 
kadin be henceforth known. Thus she might be the Second Kadin 
or Third Kadin, and naturally she would do all in her power to dis- 
lodge the one immediately above her — by fair means or foul. In the 
case of Roxelana, however, the impossible had been achieved, for 
Suleiman, so far from having other kadins after the fall of Bosfor 
Sultan, actually married off several of his most beautiful WQmeDLtO 
cement his affection and fidehty to Roxelana. 

Melling's drawing of the harem (see plate opposite p. 152) requires a 
Httle explanation. As previously mentioned, he had been appointed 
architect to the favourite sister of Sehm III, and in such a capacity 
had many conversations with the Sultana and her women that were 
of great assistance to him in his work. 

Although his drawing of the harem is entirely fanciful, Melling has 
not only taken great trouble to introduce into his picture some of the 
chief members of the harem, but has represented on one story or 
another all the various daily occupations and customs of the women. 
In the front centre is one of the more important black eunuchs speak- 
ing to the Mistress of the harem. In the right-hand front corner are 
three women keeping themselves warm with their feet under a tandir 
or pan containing hghted charcoal, which fits under a square tin- 
topped table covered with tapestry or rugs. Immediately round the 
comer two Lesbians will be noticed, while in the middle centre is a 
slave, recognized by her simpler dress. In the left-hand corner a 
woman of high position is partaking of a meal, while in the main haU 
seven others are seated round a tray o£pilaf. On the furst floor is the 
mosque, and here care has been taken to show all the different atti- 
tudes of prayer. Immediately above, on the second floor, are some 
of the bedrooms, and the mattresses are just being put out for the 
night. During the day they are kept in wall cupboards like that shown 
on the first floor to the right. Although a slave is represented in the 
drawing as carrying a water-jug we see no sign of any wall foun- 
tain. It seems curious that this has not been introduced, as at least 
one such fountain was always to be found actually in the bedrooms ; 



Still more would there be one in an enormous hall such as is here 

But we must return to the harem personnel. If we look upon the 
Sultan Vahde as ruler of the harem the Chief Black Eunuch, or Kislar 
Agha, must be regarded as her Prime Minister. His duties have 
already been described in an earher chapter, but I may repeat here 
that he was in direct charge of the girls, and could be largely respon- 
sible for their being noticed by the Sultan ; and he had a very large 
number of eunuchs to assist him in his duties. He was the liaison 
officer between the Sultan Valide and the girls, and between the 
Sultan and the outside world. He was, in fact, one of the highest 
* men ' in the kingdom, and his interests and influence extended far 
beyond the walls of the Seragho. With the general running of the 
harem he was not directly concerned. That was relegated to the female 
Cabinet, or Privy Council, as it might be called. 

This was led by a Lady Controller, Lady Stewardess, or Lady 
Administrator (Ketkhuda or fCwy^), who was usually regarded as 
deputy head of the harem, temporarily acting as a kind of head house- 
keeper and manageress. Nearly equal to her, and according to some 
authorities also a deputy head, was the Treasurer (Hazinedar Usta), 
who was responsible not only for the handling of the running expenses 
of the harem, which were very high and comphcated, but for the 
paying out of the 'pin money' {pa§maklik, literally ' sHpper money') 
to all those entitled to receive it, and for the arrangement of pensions 
paid to those who left the Seragho for the Eski Serai, or Old 

Other members of the Cabinet were the Mistress of the Robes, 
the Keeper of the Baths, the Keeper of the Jewels, the Reader of the 
Koran, the Keeper of the Storerooms, and the Manageress of the 
Table Service, and so on. 

All these positions of trust and responsibihty would be occupied 
by women who had gradually advanced in every part of the harem 
training, but who had been passed by as far as the chance to become 
a kadin was concerned. This, then, was the compensation for being 
'passed over.' Love — at any rate male love — had been denied them, 
and now all they could hope for was some high position in the harem, 
which at least would bring them wealth and power to a certain degree. 

^"lii ~ 177 


An indulgent Sultan might even marry them off instead of sending 
them to end their days in the Eski Serai. 

So far I have mentioned only the Sultan Valide, her CabiQet, the 
Chief Black Eunuch, and the four kadins. It is now necessary to 
consider the ordinary member of the harem, what her duties were, 
how she was trained, and what chances she had of promotion. 

Each of the most important women had her own Httle Court {odd), 
with attendants varying in number according to her rank. At the 
same time each had a number of pupils studying to make themselves 
perfect in the particular line allotted to their mistress. Thus, on enter- 
ing the harem at a tender age the girl would in all probabiHty be im- 
mediately attached to one of the odas as a novice. In fact, should the 
Sultan Vahde or one of the lesser officials be requiring a new slave 
or pupil they were at perfect Hberty to buy one and train her person- 
ally. The new girl, selected from a large number, would be placed 
under the care of, say, the Mistress of the Robes. There she would 
serve her apprenticeship, looking upon her tutoress as a mother 
from whom she would receive all her clothes, money, food, and 
jewels. The tutoress is to a large extent responsible for her through- 
out her career, and does aU she can to better her condition in what- 
ever way possible. Having made good progress in her own depart- 
ment, the girl may have the chance of entering another oda which 
suits her better. Perhaps she has developed a flair for coffee-making 
or keeping accounts. In which case a few carefully placed bribes 
may get her the necessary transfer. Perhaps, however, her promotion 
has been slow and years have passed before she arrives at the head 
of her particular oda. In that case she will probably remain where 
she is, knowing that her chances of ever being a kadin are past, and 
preferring now to enjoy the privileges of her position. 

But, on the other hand, let us take the case of the girl who has 
started with the Mistress of the Robes, got transferred to the Chief 
Coffee-maker, and by a lucky chance is present on the occasion of a 
visit of the Sultan to the Sultan Vahde. 

It is quite sufficient for the Sultan to glance at her approvingly or 
make some trivial remark about her. Any such sign of Imperial 
favour is at once noticed, and the epithet guzdeh, or * in the eye,' is 
at once given her. This is her first real step towards the envied posi- 



tion of a kadin. From this time the girl is ' marked.' She is separated 
from the rest and is given an apartment and slaves to herself. Mean- 
while developments are awaited, and a message to appear before the 
Sultan may be expected any time. Should this occur great prepara- 
tions are made before she can enter the room of her Lord. One by 
one the heads of the different departments are called in to assist. 
The Keeper of the Baths takes her off first, and superintends her 
toilet with massage, shampooing, perfuming, and hairdressing. The 
shaving of the body, dyeing of the nails, and other such details follow. 
She now proceeds to the Keeper of the Lingerie, the Mistress of the 
Robes, the Head of the Treasury ; and so, at last she is ready for 
her Royal lover. And now her chance has come. Every artifice of 
which the feminine mind is capable is put into play. How can she 
tell if a male child will be born of the union ! But first she must cap- 
tivate the Sultan's heart, and perhaps several nights will be hers, and 
anything might happen then. 

It has been repeatedly affirmed that when kadins or other favoured 
concubines enter the Sultan's bedroom, which is not allowed until 
his Majesty has already retired, they approach the foot of the bed, 
lift up the coverlet, and raise it to their forehead and Hps. They then 
creep in humbly at the foot of the bed, and gradually work their 
way upward imtil they are level with the Sultan. 

By some this latter custom has been discredited, and when Lady 
Mary Wortley Montagu mentioned the subject to the Chief Kadin 
of Mustafa II she was informed that both the choice of a girl by 
throwing the handkerchief and her creeping in at the bed's foot had 
no foundation whatever in actual fact. 

But I am in no way convinced by this one statement, especially as 
it only refers to the eighteenth century, and then very possibly merely 
to the whim of a solitary Sultan. Subsequent writers have simply 
copied her without question, excepting scholars like d'Ohsson, who 
did much original research. Now this 'creeping up the bed' was 
obligatory in Constantinople on a man who had been married to one 
of the Sultanas. In these marriages the unfortunate husband is entirely 
ruled by his royal wife, and waits outside until he is summoned. He 
then timidly enters, kisses the coverlet, and creeps towards his wife 
by the same ' sliding scale.' The very fact that the custom was thus 



carried on outside the Seraglio, in the houses of men who before 
being thus honoured by the Sultan may have occupied very humble 
walks in life, would considerably add to the opportunities by which 
such a curious custom would get known and talked about. Further- 
more, the ' creeping up the bed ' was not confmed to Turkish Courts, 
but was also a well-estabhshed custom farther east — in China, for 

In the authoritative article by Carter Stent ^ we are given the 
following account of the bedroom ritual, which is similar to that 
observed in the Seragho in several particulars. When the Emperor 
wishes for the presence of any particular concubine in his bedchamber 
he gives a label or tally, on which he has written the name of the 
lady, to the eunuch-in-waiting, who takes it to the lady in question, 
and she is borne in a chair by eunuchs to the Emperor's sleeping 
apartment, which is named Yang-hsin-tien. On retiring to rest the 
lady does not dare get into the Emperor's bed in the usual manner 
— that is, from the head, or, rather, side — but it is etiquette to crawl 
in from the foot till she comes in line with her Imperial bedfellow. 
Two eunuchs keep watch outside the door, and before break of day 
they arouse the concubine, and she is borne back again to her own 
apartment. The circumstance of the concubine's having slept with 
the Emperor is then recorded in a book, with the name of the lady 
and the date of the visit. The entry is signed by the Emperor, and 
the book is referred to to substantiate the legitimacy of the child, in 
the event of the concubine's giving birth to one. 

As to the other custom — that of selecting a concubine by giving or 
throwing a handkerchief — there is also considerable evidence that, 
at one time at any rate, it was no * traveller's tale.' 

In the first place it should be remembered that in Turkey the 
mendil, yaglik, or handkerchief, holds a position of honour that is 
probably unique. It is used not only by the Sultan, but by every- 
body, as a covering for any present conveyed from one person to 
another. Naturally, in later reigns the introduction of envelopes and 
cardboard boxes did much to end the custom, but formerly any 
important letter, sum of money, present of jewellery, or even the 
gift of fruits, sweetmeats, or clothing, was wrapped up in an em- 
* Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society {North China Branch) (1877), pp. 174-175. 



broidered kerchief. The richer the wrapper the greater the com- 
phment. It is therefore very possible, if not probable, that the 
compliment of selecting a favoured girl would be paid by the use 
of a kerchief. 

Furthermore, as we shall shortly see, the reliable Bon definitely 
tells us that the King throws his handkerchief to the chosen one just 
before he leaves.^ In certain situations speech is both superfluous and 
unbecoming, and so in a Court teeming with etiquette and ceremonial 
we can well imagine such a custom to have existed. In much the 
same way the dignified ' throwing the glove ' in Western Courts was 
also a challenge to combat — but of a more serious nature ! 

Every precaution is taken to make the visit of the concubine as 
private as possible, and none of the other women may even be aware 
of the choice, and never will know unless she is made a kadin and 
given a suite of servants of her own. The eunuch on guard outside 
the Royal bedroom is told of the intended visit, and the portress 
inside makes the necessary preparations. Care is taken that all doors 
and windows between the rooms of the girl and those of the Sultan 
are closed. No one is allowed to appear, and complete silence is 
maintained everywhere. Although the Sultan almost always receives 
the girl in his suite within the harem he sometimes honours her by 
going to her rooms, in which case he is conducted there by one of 
the black eunuchs, and is received by the lady and her slaves with 
the most profound respect and obeisance. In the morning he or she 
returns to their own rooms as silently and secretly as they came. 

Speaking of all these matters at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, Bon writes as follows : 

... if he should require one of them for his pleasure or to watch 
them at play or hear their music, he makes known his desire to the 
Head Kadin, who immediately sends for the girls who seem to her to 
be the most beautiful in every respect and arranges them in a line from 
one end of the room to the other. She then brings in the King, who 
passes before them once or twice, and according to his pleasure fixes 
his eyes on the one who attracts him most, and as he leaves throws 
one of his handkerchiefs into her hand, expressing the desire to sleep 
the night with her. She, having this good fortune, makes up as well 

* In the eighteenth century too we find Flachat describing this same method of selecting 
a girl in vogue at the tvMjp fetes of Mahmud I. See later, p. 259. 



as she can and, coached and perfumed by the Kadin, sleeps the night 
with the King in the Royal chamber in the women's apartments, 
which is always kept ready for such an event. And while they are 
sleeping the night the Kadin arranges for some old Moorish women, 
who take it in turn to stay in the room for two or three hours at a 
time. There are always two torches burning there, one at the door of 
the room, where one of the old women is, and the other at the foot 
of the bed ; and they change without making a sound, so that the King 
is not disturbed in any way. On rising in the morning the King 
changes all his clothes, leaving the girl those he was wearing with aU 
the money that was in the purses : then, going to his other rooms, he 
sends her a present of clothes, jewels, and money in accordance with 
the satisfaction and pleasure received. The same procedure holds good 
for all the others who take his fancy, lasting longer with one than with 
another according to the pleasure and affection he feels for her. And 
she who becomes pregnant is at once called Cassachi Sultan — that is to 
say. Queen Sultana — and if she bears a son its arrival is heralded with 
the greatest festivities. 

This Queen has her own apartment of magnificent rooms, complete 
domestic arrangements are immediately made for her, and the King 
allows her a sufficient income to enable her to give away and spend 
lavishly on anything she may require, and the whole of the Seragho 
recognizes her position, extending to her much honour and respect. 
The other women, even if they have children, are not called Queen, 
but only Sultana, for having had carnal intercourse with the King; 
the only one made Queen is she who is the mother of the heir to the 
throne. These Sultanas, who have lent themselves for the gratification 
of the King's pleasure, have the further prerogative of being immedi- 
ately raised above the common level, having rooms and service assigned 
to them, and receive an honorarium of so many aspri a day for their 
needs, nor do they want for every kind of most lovely garments, 
making a very sumptuous comparison with the rest. 

All these Sultanas intrigue among themselves with much famiUarity, 
and exhibit just as much cunning to avoid indifference on the part of 
the King, for, being slaves and hving in great fear of jealousy for love 
of his Majesty, each tries to honour him so as to be more favoured and 
loved than the others. . . . The other women, who have not the luck 
to be favourites of the King, Hve an empty Ufe, passing their youth in 
evil thoughts among themselves, and when old serve as teachers or 
governesses of the young who arrive every day at the Seragho. In 
such bad circumstances they account it a lucky thing for them to fmd 
themselves in a position to be sent to the Old Seragho, because they 
might get married from there according to the kindness of the Mistress, 


1^ m 



and to the amount of savings and balance of the allowance and presents 
received, which may be considerable, because in the SeragHo they are 
always favoured in many ways by the Sultana in addition to the 
allowance from the King's treasury.^ 

Here Bon is only referring to the older and experienced women 
who have never attracted the Sultan in their youth, but how about 
the girl who has been sent to the Sultan at the discretion of the 
Mistress and then is not wanted after all? The unfortunate girl has 
been bathed, perfumed, and decked up like a lamb for slaughter, 
only to discover that the Sultan has changed his mind, forgotten 
about her, or never really intended to show any interest in her at all. 
Immediately she is shorn of her finery, her newly elected slaves are 
dismissed, and she finds herself once again in her former position. 

Besides the ustas^ or mistresses, the pupils, assistants, and kadinSy 
there was an enormous number of women who did the menial work 
and were nothing more than general servants. The really heavy 
work, such as cleaning the floors, passages, and walls, was left to the 
negresses, while the lighter duties included the cleaning and care of 
the pipes, the repairing and preserving of the sofa cushions, the 
polishing and preparing of the braziers, the care of the prayer rugs 
of the mosque, the assisting in the preparation of sherbets, pilaf, etc. 
In some cases a special talent might show itself and be the m.eans of a 
girFs obtaining a better and more sympathetic employment. Every- 
body learned to cook, and if the opportunity ever presented itself 
each prided herself on being able to produce some sugared delicacy 
or succulent stew to tickle the Royal palate. 

As we have seen in a previous chapter, the selamlik contained a large 
saloon, the Hunkar Sofasi (No. 77 in the plan), where the Sultan some- 
times received members of the harem for his pleasure or to witoess 
some entertainment. On such occasions the entire harem might be ad- 
mitted, and music, dances, and mimic exhibitions would entertain the 
assembled throng. The massed beauty of these women, their dresses 
of silk and satin enhanced with jewellery of every description, the 
richness of the furniture, the brilliancy of the illumination, the silent 
lines of black eunuchs, and finally the Sultan himself, seated on the 
throne in scarlet robes edged with sable, a dagger at his waist studded 

' P. 71. 


with diamonds, a white egret in his turban held in place by a cluster 
of diamonds and rubies, his bejewelled water-pipe at his side, the 
room heavy with the mingled perfumes of the women, the incense 
of the braziers, and the amber-scented coffee — all this must have 
been a sight to see indeed, and one which rivalled the wildest ex- 
aggerations to be found in the pages of the Thousand Nights and a 
Night, when the glory of Harun al-Rashid was at its height. 

As a rehef from the eternal jealousies and bickerings that never 
ceased, entertainment of this nature must have been most welcome. 
A troupe of dancers and pantomimists was selected and trained, 
as well as a band or orchestra. Occasionally, by way of variety, 
public dancers firom outside the harem were introduced, and the 
enthusiasm with which they were received was unbounded. Accord- 
ing to several writers the nature of the dances was far from modest, 
and we can imagine that the danse du ventre and other ' suggestive * 
movements played a large part in the entertainment. So also shadow 
shows, full of obscenities, resembling those that Montmartre keeps 
for inexperienced tourists, were very popular. During the reign of 
Selim III a French dancing-master and a number of musicians actually 
had permission to enter some outer building of the harem ; and there, 
in the presence of several eunuchs, they gave lessons to the girls who 
had been selected to act in their next * show.' Such girls were usually 
those who had not yet embraced the Muhammadan rehgion, as the 
law frowned on exhibitions of this nature. 

Except for such diversions as these and occasional trips up the 
Bosphorus, life in the harem must have been dull indeed. 

In the foregoing pages I have attempted to show how a girl could 
* better herself,' and how there always was a possible chance of her 
being seen by the Sultan or even getting married outside the Seraglio 

Ex-kadins of late Sultans sometimes married from the Eski Serai 
and fmally severed all connexion with the Seragho. No better 
example of the freedom of a " retired " kadin could be given than that 
of La Sultana Sporca. She had received this uncomplimentary nick- 
name, " the Filthy Sultana," owing to her ill mode of Ufe, which was 
nothing more nor less than that of a procuress and bawd. Originally 
one of Ibrahim's kadins, she was sent to the Eski Serai and married a 



Pasha. When this man died she was at hberty to Hve where she 
Hked. Being an expert in the arts of vice and debauchery through 
long practice in Ibrahim's harem, she felt it a pity that all her know- 
ledge was being wasted, and so to relieve the boredom of old age she 
became the most sought after and exclusive procuress in Constantin- 
ople. Her particular line was to buy young girls, give them a very com- 
plete training in singing, dancing, and general coquetry, and then hire 
them out to rich Pashas and young bloods of the town. The story 
of how she refused one of the girls to the Sultan (Muhammad IV) 
and subsequently caused a Bosnian captain to be executed for having 
made her his mistress when the Sultan wanted her himself has been 
told by Rycaut,' with a less satisfactory version in the diary of 
Dr John Covel.^ 

It must not be supposed, however, that all the women in the 
harem were content to live an uneventful Hfe without trying for some- 
thing better — and sometimes getting it. 

The Bosphorus can tell many tales of what happened to women 
who tried — and failed. But there were also the few who tried and 
succeeded. Curious as it may seem, the harem had an attraction for 
some women. To them it was not only the place of mystery, silence, 
boredom, and incarceration ; it was also the place of intrigue, oppor- 
tunity, luxury, and riches. In fact, in the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries Italian and Sicihan women were willingly sold into the 
harem with the sole purpose of intrigue. 

The full story of those countless harem intrigues will never be told, 
nor will the number of women drowned in sacks be known. From 
all accounts it appears that the stories of this nature, which once 
shocked the entire civilized world, were in no way exaggerated. The 
drowning of one or two women would attract no notice at all, and 
everything would be carried out with silence and dispatch. The 
Kislar Agha takes them to the Bostanji-bashi, under whose direction 
the hapless females are placed in sacks weighted with stones. The 
bostanji, to whom the duty of drowning them is committed, board a 
small rowing-boat to which is attached by a rope a smaller one in 
which the women are placed. They then row towards the open 

' History of the Turkish Empire, 1623-1677 (London, 1687), pp. 259-260. 

* Under July 17, 1676, for which see Early Voyages and Travels in the Levant, pp. 160-162. 



water opposite Seraglio Point, and by several dexterous jerks of the 
rope cause the boat to capsize. A eunuch accompanies the hostanji 
and reports to the Kislar Agha the fulfdment of his orders. 

At times, however, a mass drowning would take place on the dis- 
covery of some plot to depose the Sultan or similar grave offence. 
As many as 300 women have been drowned on such an occasion. 
The most terrible case was during the reign of Ibrahim, who after 
one of his debauches suddenly decided to drown his complete harem 
just for the fun of getting a new one later on. Accordingly several 
hundred women were seized, tied up in sacks, and thrown into the 
Bosphorus. Only one escaped. She was picked up by a passing 
vessel and ultimately reached Paris. 

A strange tale is told of a diver who was sent down after a wreck 
off SeragHo Point. Almost immediately he signalled to be drawn up 
again, and explained in a voice quaking with terror that at the bottom 
of the sea was a great number of bowing sacks, each containing the 
dead body of a woman standing upright on the weighted end and 
swaying slowly to and fro with the current. 

But there is the other side of the story to be told as well. We have 
seen how Roxclana was the first woman to move into the SeragHo 
with her train of servants and eunuchs, and how gradually she obtained 
complete ascendancy over the Sultan and ruled supreme in the harem 
until her death in 1558. This was the beginning of the Reign of 
Women [Kadinlar Sultanati), which, lasted about a hundred and fifty 
years, till the death of the Sultan VaHde Tarkhan, mother of Muham- 
mad IV. During this long period it was the harem that ruled the king- 
dom, a continual battle being ceaselessly waged between the Sultan 
Valide, the Chief Kadin, and sometimes the Kislar Agha. The whole_ 
harem became a hotbed of intrigue, bribery, extortion^ plots, and 
counter-plots. While the Sultans were indulging in orgies of drink 
or vice, according to their tastes, it was the women who crept to 
the secret grilled window of the Divan, listened to State secrets, and 
played their cards accordingly. 

Following Suleiman, Selim II kept his entire harem in the SeragHo, 
and as his drunkenness increased so did the power of the Chief 
Kadin, Nur Banu Sultan. When her son became Murad III she 
assumed the title of Sultan VaHde, and as such her power increased 


o s 

U ^ 



even more than before. Meanwhile intrigue was ripe in the hareniy 
and the fight for the envied position of First Kadin had begun. It 
was won by a beautiful Venetian woman of the noble house of Baffo. 
She had been captured by a Turkish corsair in her early youth, and 
by her beauty and cleverness soon won the heart of Murad to the 
exclusion of all other women. But his mother, the Sultan Vahde 
Nur Banu, got alarmed and gave orders for the cream of the slave 
markets to be sent to the SeragUo. So successful was she that, so far 
from keeping true to his one love, Murad plunged into a continuous 
orgy of licentious indulgence. The price of women went up, and 
slave-dealers and even powerful members of the harem joined in the 
procuring of fresh virgins to quench the Royal flame of sensuahty. - 
So for a time the power of the Venetian — ^known as Safieh, Safiye, or 
Baffa, after the name of her family — was ecHpsed. But this was only 
so far as Murad's couch was concerned. Safieh had b igger fish to _ 
fry, and was already in secret correspondence with Catherine de* 
Medici to prevent T'urkey^irom attacking Venice. She it was who 
directed the movements of the Ottoman fleets and armies, while - 
Murad was still wallowing in the delights of the harem. She also 
corresponded with the Venetian Ambassador by means of a Jewess 
named Chiarezza, who used to sell jewels and other similar articles ."^ 
to the SeragUo. Apart from th e determination to keep Turkey from ^ 
having a war withVenice sEenad^but one desire, ^o the tiilfilment of 
which everything would be sacrificed, and that was to place her son 
on the throne, and thereby herself become the Sultan VaUde. When 
in 1595 the time came she never hesitated for a moment, and was 
instrumental in the appaUing murder of Muhammad Ill's nineteen " 
brothers. Thus her object was achieved, and for a time she continued 
to govern the country. She even sank so low as to corrupt her own - 
son and encourage his habits of debauch in order to leave her a freer _ 
hand in State aflairs, and although he was persuaded against his will 
to lead the janissaries against the Hungarians and Austrians in 1596 
he immediately returned to the seclusion of the harem, leaving the 
government in the hands of Safieh. But her turn came later, and 
one day she was found strangled in her bed. 

The Reign of Women continued, and Ahmed I was entirely under 
their influence. His successor, Mustafa I, was a lunatic, while when 



Osman II began to show interest in State affairs he incurred the dis-^ 
favour of the janissaries and was immediately killed. All this time 
the country was virtually ruled by another woman — Kiusem (Kiosem 
or Kjeuzel) Sultan, the mother of Murad IV and Ibrahim. Murad, 
who came to the throne in 1623,,. actually threw off the influence of 
the harem, at an^Trate temporarily, and was the last Sultan to lead " 
his army in the field. His intemperate habits, however, proved fatal, 
and after an attack of fever, provoked by drink and terror at seeing 
air eclipse of the sun, he died at the early age of twenty-eight. One 
of his last acts was to order the execution of his brother Ibrahim, 
thus making the Ottoman race extinct, and giving the throne to his 
favourite, the Silihdar Pasha. 

But once again the harem triumphed, and Kiusem falsely reported 
Ibrahim's death. At the news Murad grinned a ghastly smile, and 
tried to rise from his bed to gloat over his brother's dead body. 
His attendants, knowing that their lives were at stake in the event of 
the discovery of the truth, held back the dying man in his bed. The 
end came almost at once, and Kiusem, seeing a further period of 
government in store for her, rushed off to the Kafes to tell Ibrahim 
the good news. 

As we shall see in the next chapter, he was too terrified to open the 
door, thinking the incessant knocking to be merely the arrival of the 
mutes with the bowstring whose coming he had daily feared for the 
last eight years. 

And so, free at last, Ibrahim mounted the throne, and soon proved 
himself the most depraved, selfish, cruel, rapacious, and cowardly 
man that even the Ottoman Empire had produced. His Grand 
Vizir, Kara-Mustafa, sought to check his excesses, but he fell out 
with a member of the harem, and his execution soon followed. His 
successor decided to give the Sultan's debauchery and folhes full rein, 
and so gross were some of his orgies that even the harem murmured 
in indignation. All the best offices of State were sold to the highest 
bidder or given to worthless favourites, taxes were increased, and 
every resource possible was drained to supply the demands of his 

Harem scandal caused a report that he was impotent, used up by 
his unwearied debauches, but the birth of a son in 1642 and two more 



the following year soon put an end to that rumour. At the same time 
his vicious hfe in the harem continued, and historians tell us curious 
tales of the happenings in the Seraglio. One of his chief passions was 
a morbid craving for perfumes, especially for ambergris, with the 
exotic heavy scent of which he drenched his beard, clothes, and room 
hangings. Another craving he had was for furs. One night he had 
listened to a tale in the harem about a king who was dressed in sable 
skins and whose sofas, couches, walls, and floors were covered with 
the same skins. Ibrahim thought he would also like to be a ' sable 
king,' and in the morning he summoned the Divan and ordered a 
general collection of sables to be made all over the Empire. Both an 
ambergris and a fur tax were imposed, and indignation grew at 
these stupid and useless extravagances. Demetrius Cantemir^ gives a 
terrible description of Ibrahim's life in the harem : how when nature 
was exhausted he fortified himself with aphrodisiacs and covered his 
room with mirrors to stimulate the passions. Every Friday a fresh 
virgin was presented to him (usually by his mother!), and anyone 
who suggested some new form of orgy was certain of a personal 
triumph. One of his Httle games was to strip all his women naked 
and make them pretend to be mares, while in a similar condition 
he would run among them acting the part of stalhon as long as his 
strength lasted. 

The extravagances of the women were nearly as bad as his own, 
and he allowed them to take anything they liked from the shops and 
bazaars without payment. One of these women happened to say she 
preferred to shop at night, and so the shopkeepers were made to stay 
open and provide sufficient torchlight for their wares to be clearly 
seen. Another woman told Ibrahim that he would look nice with 
jewels in his beard! No sooner said than done, and he actually 
appeared like this in public ! The superstitious Turks regarded it as 
a very bad omen, because the only other King who had acted in this 
way was Pharaoh of the Red Sea incident. 

Many are the stories told of Ibrahim's depravity, lust, and cruelty, 
but the tale of the Kislar Agha and his slave girl as related by Rycaut 
is worthy of repetition, if only to show how an incident in the harem 
led to a war which lasted over twenty years. 

» History of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1734), p. 254. 


It appears that the Chief Eunuch, the Kislar Agha, chanced to cast 
his eyes upon a fair slave put up for sale by a Persian merchant. So 
enamoured of her did he become that he decided to buy her for 
himself and add her to his harem, which, useless though it was, pride 
and tradition made him support. Although he bought her as a virgin 
she soon proved to be with child, and the justly indignant eunuch 
was greatly offended and confmed her to the house of his steward. 
However, when the child was bom curiosity got the better of in- 
dignation and the eunuch went to see the babe, and was so dehghted 
with it that he resolved to adopt it at once. Now it was about this 
time that Ibrahim's first son, Muhammad, was bom, and, the child 
being in want of a nurse, the slave girl of the Kislar Agha was chosen, 
who accordingly entered upon her duties in company with her 
own son. 

Ibrahim at once preferred the slave's son to his own, who was pale 
and anaemic, and passed hours playing with him in the gardens of the 
Seraglio. This roused the jealousy of Muhammad's mother, who 
developed a hatred for the girl, her son, and the Kislar Agha. One 
day she attacked Ibrahim about the matter, who in his rage snatched 
Muhammad from his mother's arms and flung him into a near-by 
cistern. He was saved from drowning, but bore a scar on his fore- 
head for the rest of his life. 

But by this time things had got too hot for the Kislar Agha, and 
he suddenly decided that a trip to Mecca might be followed by a 
retirement to Egypt. Matters were arranged at once, and three ships 
were filled with the Chief Eunuch's harem, treasures, and goods 
of every description. Contrary winds compelled them to put into 
Rhodes, and hardly had they continued on their course when six 
Maltese galleys approached and opened fire. After a long and bloody 
fight the Turkish vessels were overpowered, and the Kislar Agha died 
fighting like a man. So enormous was the booty that the voyage was 
regarded as no ordinary trip, and the young boy found on board was 
at once taken to be the Sultan's son on his way to Alexandria to be 
educated. The presence of the Kislar Agha had confirmed this belief, 
and the Grand Master of the Knights of St John treated the boy with 
the honours due to a future sovereign, and all Europe believed the 
story. The child was educated, and after being dragged about in 


2 _ 

O "^ 


various countries ended by becoming a monk, and was known as 
Father Ottoman. 

But when the news reached Ibrahim he became mad with rage, 
executed his Captain Pasha, and swore to be revenged not only on 
the Maltese, but on the Venetians who had harboured them in Crete. 
Although war was openly declared against Malta the secret objective 
was Candia, or Crete. A formidable fleet set sail in 1645 with the 
declared object of attacking Malta, which had been busy strengthen- 
ing its fortifications and making ready for a long siege. But the 
Turkish fleet changed its direction and sailed to Canea, the western 
extremity of Crete, which it reached late in June. Canea and then 
Retimo fell into its hands, and in 1648 the siege of the capital began, 
and lasted for twenty years ! 

Meanwhile at home the harem still ruled the country, but Ibrahim ^-^ 
had gone too far, and his deposition was sought to save the country 
from ruin. The Sultan Valide, Kiusem, was diplomatically sounded 
as to her views, and, still smarting from the gross indignities she had 
suffered at her son's hands, she agreed to receive a deputation from 
the army and the people. After useless remonstrances she yielded to 
their demands, Ibrahim was deposed and sent back to the Kafes, and 
Iffie^young Muhammad placed on the throne in his stead. And now 
Kiusem had another, and younger. Sultan VaHde to reckon with, 
Tarkhan or Turkhan by name, who proved to be more than a match 
for her elder rival. As the imprisoned Ibrahim still tried to get back 
his lost throne and the Spahis demanded his death the mufti yielded, 
and amid the blasphemies and curses of the wretched man the bow- 
string ended his miserable Hfe. 

r;7 Now more than before did Kiusem see her power sUpping away, 
but she decided to make one last effort by plotting with the Agha 
of the janissaries, whom she had won over to her side, to depose 
Muhammad IV and put Suleiman, his younger brother, on the throne 
in his stead. At first everything went well. The Agha collected 
troops, and the Grand Vizir, being surprised at night, was obhged 
to attend^th^jneeting. Feigning to agree with their plans, he asked 
leave to go to the SeragHo to call the Divan, but once he was safely 
inside the doors were locked, and the rest of the night was spent 
in arming all available troops and barricading the Palace. Tarkhan 



Sultan was awakened, and an oath of allegiance was taken to serve 
and defend the young Muhammad, who was still but a child. The 
mufti declared by 2,fetva that Kiusem must die, and a decree was drawn 
up by the Vizir and signed by the trembling hand of the young Sultan. 
It was now the hour of Tarkhan's triumph, and a search was made in 
Kiusem's suite without result. At last the wretched old woman was 
discovered hidden in a clothes-chest and dragged out to her death. 
Every atom of respect was forgotten in the terrible scene that followed. 
Her earrings and bracelets were torn off her, the money she scattered 
on the ground as a bait was ignored, her rich robes were torn in a 
thousand pieces, and, in spite of all the orders her oppressors had 
received to respect the body of their Sultan's grandmother, the hapless 
woman was stripped of her clothes and dragged by the feet naked to 
the gate of the harem known as the Gate of the Aviary (No. 40 in the 
plan). There she was strangled, and her partisans were killed later. 
^r^ Tarkhan was now in com mand of the situation, but w as w ise enough 
to, entriist^ the power of government to Muhammad Kiuprili, the 
first of thejthree Grand Vizirs of the name who ruled ^Turkey so 
successfully. Withjhe death of Tarkhan the Reign of Wom en was 
yirtuafly ^endcd, an d hopes for t he Er n pire began to revive . 




As already explained in the introductory chapter, the seldmlik was 
that part of the house reserved for the men only, the word actually 
meaning 'place of greeting.' In the case of the Seraglio, however, it 
was used in its widest sense, as it included the large Throne Room 
into which women were often introduced, and also the Hall of Cir- 
cumcision. The Corridor of the Bath and the Golden Road linked 
it closely with the harem ; in fact, as time went on the barrier between 
these two important units of the House of Felicity grew less and less, 
and, as already mentioned in the first of the harem chapters, it is no 
easy matter to-day to trace where the two divide. 

The Vestibule of the Hearth, Ocakli Sofa (No. 70 in the plan), was 
built after the terrible fire of 1665 as a connecting link between the 
Court of the Sultan Valide and the Hiinkdr Sofasi, or Royal Saloon, 
sometimes known as the Throne Room Within. It leads into the 
anteroom of the Royal Saloon, the Vestibule of the Fountain {(^epneli 
Sofa), which is even more ornate than the Ocakli Sofa. As can be 
seen from the plate opposite p. 182, it is a tall room completely tiled 
from floor to ceiling. The chimney-piece and the doorway leading 
to the vestibule of the suite of Murad III are both surmounted by 
deeply carved Cufic reliefs. The shutters to the cupboards on either 
side of the fireplace are inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and resemble 
designs in the Hall of Ambassadors at the Alhambra, Granada. 

Passing on into the huge domed Royal Saloon, one is immediately 
struck by the mixture of Oriental and French forms of decoration. 
An elaborately carved French dado is surmounted by another one of 
Cufic characters, and rococo ornamentation is much in evidence in 
the large array of chairs and grandfather clocks. The room was used 
for the larger harem entertainments, the women being seated in the 
raised portion of the room behind the pillars. The musicians, heavily 
blindfolded if engaged from outside the Seraglio, sat in the gallery 
above the women. 

N 193 


The Royal throne was a simple structure to the right, surmounted 
by a canopy upheld by four pillars. Of official ceremonies held here 
the only one recorded appears to be the furst meeting of the new 
Sultan with his complete harem before the ceremony of " the Girding 
of the Sword" at Eyyub, which corresponds to our coronation.' 
The modem painted treatment of the pendentives and supporting 
arches is of Httle artistic value, and is reminiscent of much similar 
work in many of the larger Constantinople mosques. In the far 
left-hand comer is the Corridor of the Bath (Hamam Yolu), having 
the Royal baths on the left and the bedroom of Abd ul-Hamid I and 
a room used by Selim III on the right. Abd ul-Hamid's room is so 
overloaded with rococo decoration that not an inch is free from some 
type of scroU-work in gilt or marble. The fountain, chimney-piece, 
cupboards, and dd's are all replete with the writhing eccentricities of 
the worst Louis XV excesses. In fact (except for the chimney-piece, 
which is, if possible, even more rococo and of the proscenium type), 
it is a relief to pass on to the more sober room of Sehm III, lined on 
three sides by low sofas upholstered in silk and satin brocades em- 
broidered in pleasing floral designs. A row of windows on the north 
and west sides affords a fine view of the gardens beyond. 

Through a long passage running by the side of Sehm's room access 
is obtained to the waU kiosk of Osman III and the adjoining rooms. 

Here again the French influence predominates, as is at once noticed 
by the much-overloaded fa9ade, which faces a large paved courtyard 
with a rectangular pool in the middle and a trellis vine along the 
eastern side. 

Basically the kiosk is Italian in design in its use of the orders, but 
the Eastern influence is retained in the usual wide-spreading roof 
eaves, which, together with its supporting cornice, rise in waves 
from each end of the facade to the centre over the doorway. The 
doorway itself is framed by a pair of columns supporting an undulat- 
ing entablature capped by a mass of writhing sculptural forms; and 
on either side of the doorway are two windows, each separated by 
pilasters, heavily grilled, and surmounted by a comparatively chaste 
Httle string-course, over which in turn are rectangular panels filled 

' For an account of this interesting ceremony see F. W. Hasluck, ChristianitY and Islam 
under the Sultans (Oxford, 1929), vol. ii, pp. 604-622, " The Girding of the Sultan." 


' / (^ 





with intricate carving. The wall treatment on either side of the centre 
bay is again divided by pilasters, the intervening spaces here being 
decorated with the characteristic wall fountains, and also with views 
painted in sharp perspective — reminiscent of Pompeian wall frescoes 
of the Fourth Style. 

The external side of the building as seen from the Seraglio gardens 
presents a strong contrast in its severity of design, and the high, 
beetling side of the walls, with the projecting kiosk at the top, appears 
like a prison or medieval fortification. Decoration has been kept to 
a minimum, and the whole effect is fme and pleasing in character. 

From the windows of the kiosk itself a magnificent view is obtained 
of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, and before the erection of 
the ugly station buildings the near distance was occupied by gardens 
stretching to the water's edge. 

Internally the kiosk is divided into three main rooms leading out of 
each other, the wall kiosk itself being part of the centre one, which is 
twice as large as either of the other two. Each room is most lavishly 
decorated, so that barely a square inch of wall or ceiling surface 
remains uncovered. The walls are panelled and decorated in various 
ways, with carved and painted floral designs of a most fantastic 
nature, and with frescoes showing views in perspective of Itahan 
landscapes. Some panels are filled with tiles set in most intricate pat- 
terns, while others are pierced to form niches to hold pipes, trays, etc., 
and resemble similar niches to be seen in the chamber of Murad III 
and the Baghdad Kiosk. The furniture and mirrors are French, of 
the Louis XIV and Louis XV periods, heavily carved and gilded, 
and upholstered with rich brocades and silks. 

The whole effect of these rooms is so rich in its wealth and pro- 
fusion of decoration and riot of colour as to appear almost gross and 
vulgar. At the same time the kiosk is a remarkable example of later 
Turkish art, and of the most lavish rococo style then prevalent in so 
many countries in Europe. 

The courtyard separates the kiosk of Osman III from the back 
windows of the Royal Saloon, to which it is now necessary to return 
in order to reach the rooms of Murad III and Ahmed I and Ahmed III. 
Room 86 in the plan forms the vestibule or hall to the large 
chamber of Murad III. It is entirely covered with tiling, having 



many fine floral panels surmounted by several cornices of alternate 
Cufic and floral designs. Both the cupboard shutters and the door 
are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. 

Except for the Royal Saloon, the chamber of Murad III is the 
largest in the seldmlik. It has a high dome which can be clearly seen 
in one of my photographs of the Courtyard of the Princes (opposite 
p. 198). It is a pleasing room, and the tiling is relieved by several 
series of wall niches in sets of three, an elaborate wall fountain of 
the cascade type, and two canopied thrones or beds on the chimney 
side. The chimney-piece itself is very fine, having a pointed canopy 
over twenty feet high resembling the top of a minaret, or, to the 
Western mind, the point of a giant pencil. A very beautiful, deep 
Cufic cornice surrounds the room at a height of some eight feet. 

Leading out of this room are two small chambers both full of 
charm and interest. The first is the Library (Kutiiphanesi) of Ahmed I, 
and the second (the smallest room in the whole Seraglio) the dining- 
room {yemek odasi) of Ahmed III. 

The general scheme of the library resembles that of the large room 
of Murad III, the tiling, however, being chiefly in the upper part, 
since all the lower half of the room is devoted to cupboard book- 
shelves closed by double panelled doors beautifully inlaid with various 
geometrical designs. A charming tiled skirting surrounds the room, 
and gives a touch of Ughtoess which one would hardly expect in a 
library. The pendentives contain large circular inscriptions, with 
two small ones above and one below. The usual ball and tassel is 
suspended from the centre of the dome. The books and manuscripts 
have been transferred to the New Library, in the Third Court. 

The little dining-room of Ahmed III leads out of the library to the 
left and is unique in character. It is panelled in wood and gaily 
painted with vases of bright flowers and dishes of fruit of various 
kinds. An inlaid tray in the centre of the room supports a glass bowl 
for preserved fruits and the usual two spoons used in eating. A small 
side-door gives access to that part of the Royal Saloon where the 
members of the harem sat. 

And so in this hurried survey (hurried partly because all these rooms 
are open to the pubhc) we have covered practically all the seldmlik. 
There yet remains, however, the most interesting, if the grimmest, 






part to be seen. IrefertotheiC(j/e5,orCage. It can be reached by means 
of the Golden Road and along a corridor known as the Jin Mu§averet 
Mahalle, or Consultation Place of the Jinn, or else from the hall of 
Murad Ill's room. It is not open to the public, and owing to this fact 
and to its morbidly interesting nature I shall deal with it in some detail. 

The Kafes has been the scene of more wanton cruelty, misery, and 
bloodshed than any palace room in the whole of Europe. To its 
institution are due the weakness, vices, and imbecility of so many of 
the Sultans and, to a large extent, the gradual decay and fall of the 
Ottoman Empire. 

The enormous harem of Murad III had produced 103 children for 
him, and at his death twenty sons and twenty-seven daughters were 
still living. On his recall to the capital the eldest son and heir, the 
future Muhammad III, put his nineteen brothers to death and sewed 
seven of his father's pregnant concubines into sacks and had them 
thrown into the Marmora, just to be on the safe side in case a possible 
claimant to the throne was born ! But this was the end of such drastic 
measures, for henceforth it was decided not to kill the Princes — at 
least, not at first — but to keep them safely locked up in a building in 
the Seragho which soon came to be known as the Cage. It was a 
two-storied building hidden away in the very heart of the seldmlik 
and surrounded by a high and dismal wall. It was not until the time 
of Osman III (1754-57) that the wall was lowered and more windows 
were unblocked. These unhappy men were kept without knowledge 
of the outside world, or even of pubhc affairs of the Empire. Their 
education was entirely neglected, except for what they could learn 
from their companions, who consisted of deaf mutes and a handful 
of sterile women who were allowed to form a harem to amuse the 
Princes. Although every care was taken to make these women 
barren — either by the removal of the ovaries or simply by the use of 
pessaries, made by the Seraglio physicians, of such ingredients as 
musk, amber, bezoar, aloes, cardamom, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, 
and cloves — yet mistakes did occur, and the child (and sometimes the 
mother as well) was immediately drowned. 

It is hard even to imagine what such a life must have been like. 
The only thing that can be compared with it is the ' solitary confine- 
ment' as enforced in certain State prisons of to-day. But such men 



at least have lived in the world, their brains and bodies have been 
allowed to grow and develop. But some of the Princes, such as 
Ibrahim, had been in the Cage from the age of two. Others, such as 
Osman III, were immured for fifty years, or thirty-nine years in the 
case of Suleiman II. When they came out they had all but lost the 
power of speech, and their minds and bodies were hke vegetables. 
And yet these men — these few ' lucky ' men, who had escaped the 
bowstring of the deaf mutes — were expected to take up the reins of 
government at a moment's notice and rule over one of the most 
difficult and extensive kingdoms in Europe. No wonder, then, that 
excesses occurred. Only a miracle could produce a normal man after 
such experiences. By some the particular form of ' revenge ' would 
be sought in the over-indulgence of every conceivable kind of vice 
that a half-crazed brain could devise; for others a ruthless use of the 
scimitar and an endless flow of blood would help to blot out the past. 

But there were exceptions, among them Suleiman II, who during 
his thirty-nine years' confinement had learned caUigraphy and spent 
all his time copying out Korans and praying ; and when fmally he 
came to occupy a turbulent and disquiet throne many a time did 
he wish himself back in the quiet sohtude of the Cage. Very bloody 
were some of the happenings that occurred here. I shall give but 
two examples. 

Ibrahim grew up in the Kafes, never knowing firom day to day 
when the door might slowly open and the mutes enter with the 
fatal bowstring ready to do its deadly work. When the day came 
that the reigning Sultan, Murad IV, died the Seraglio attendants 
hastened to tell Ibrahim the good news and to proclaim him Sultan. 
He heard the noise of the approaching crowd just in time to barri- 
cade the door with the help of his concubines, and, crazed with 
fright, could see nothing but lies and traps in the explanations shouted 
through the door. Still he would not beHeve, until the door was 
broken down and the dead body of Murad was flung at his feet. For 
a moment he stood transfixed with a feeling of mingled joy and fear, 
and then, reaUzing the truth, danced round the corpse in hideous 
triumph, crying out, " The Butcher of the Empire is dead at last ! " 

But Ibrahim had not done with the Kafes yet, for after his ignoble 
and vicious reign of nine years the nation rose and flung him back 






into it again. There he waited, hoping daily to be restored to the 
throne. Then one day the door opened and the expectant ex-Sultan 
and his concubines prepared for the good news. But the Sultan 
Valide had abandoned him, and this time it was the bowstring. 

In more recent days, when the janissaries mutinied in 1807, 
Selim III anticipated their demands by voluntarily exchanging places 
in the Cage with his cousin Mustafa. The new Sultan soon proved his 
incompetency, and when Bairakdar marched to Selim's aid Mustafa in 
his turn ordered SeUm to be kiUed. The murderers entered the Cage, 
and after a terrific fight for his hfe SeHm was strangled. When 
Bairakdar reached the gate he thundered on it and called aloud for 
Sehm. " Here is he ye seek ! " they cried, and threw out the body of 
the Sultan. Mustafa was dragged off the throne and put back into 
the Cage, and Mahmud II became Sultan. 

These and similar happenings give to the Kafes an historical back- 
ground that creates for this strange building of the seldmlik an interest 
all its own. 

It has been described as a two-storied building, without windows 
in the lower story, consisting of twelve magnificent apartments all 
exacdy similar to one another and all luxuriously furnished. How 
true this was once I cannot say, but it certainly is not correct as far 
as the building that remains to-day is concerned — except that it is 
two stories high. Few architectural changes appear to have been 
made here, so it seems probable that the information was purely 
guesswork. It is not clear, nevertheless, how the heir to the throne, 
with a harem of some two dozen women (Melling gives the number 
at forty, but this may be intended to apply to the Kafes as a whole), 
as well as several brothers, each with his separate harem, not to men- 
tion eunuchs, mutes, buffoons, etc., could get into a building of this 
size. For it consists of four rooms only. True, they are fme rooms 
with the usual ornate rococo decoration, showing French early 
eighteenth-century influence, and so must have undergone consider- 
able alterations in the course of their history, yet there is no sign of 
structural alterations such as can be clearly seen in other parts of the 
Seraglio. It may be then that, whereas the Kafes rooms were used 
exclusively by the Princes, the harem and other members of the Cage 
had their rooms across the court on the first floor of that part of the 



buildings that backs on to the Golden Road. I was lucky in obtaining 
three photographs of the Kafes and courtyard, so that the whole 
extent of the area can be studied. 

In the photograph reproduced opposite p. 198 we see, first, the outer, 
or north-western, part of the building. The whole fa9ade is tiled, 
windows are heavily barred, and a broad overhanging roof runs right 
round the building. To the right is the domed room of Murad III, 
and beyond that a ghmpse can just be obtained of the courtyard 
of Osman III. A section of the arching below is also visible. It is 
probably somewhere in this lower part, now a waste overrun with 
wild fig, acacia, and other trees, that the original Kafes wall had its 
foundations. The fme pierced balustrade is exactly the same as that 
which surmounts the Imperial Gate, and doubtless dates from the same 
period (nineteenth century). In the second photograph in the same 
plate we get a good view of the other half of the Kafes, and here the 
tiling is much clearer. A long oriel window will be noticed, below 
which is the entrance from the corridor " w^here the Jinn hold their 
consultations," connecting with the Golden Road. In the illustration 
opposite can be seen the other side of the courtyard, and exactly how 
closely connected with the Kafes the rooms on the mezzanine and 
first floor are. It is here that I suggest the ' staff ' of the Kafes would 
be housed. In fact, the only other place where such a comparatively 
large number of women could live would be in the buildings, long 
since gone, on the opposite side of the courtyard, beyond the pierced 
balustrade. Only a thorough inspection of the ruins hidden by the 
heavy undergrowth would help to reveal the possibilities of such an 
alternative suggestion, and this unfortunately I have not had the 
opportunity of doing. 

So also I cannot say what other buildings once existed between the 
Kafes and right away in a northerly direction to the extreme point 
of the outer Seraglio walls near the Baghdad Kiosk. It is, however, 
in this wide empty area that some of the selamlik buildings described 
by such early visitors as Nicolas de Nicolay, Dallam, and Bon, and 
even in later years by Flachat (1750), must undoubtedly have been 
situated. When inspecting the outer wall surrounding this area I 
noticed three doorways filled in with bricks, the centre one, double 
the width of the other two, being surmounted by a stone lintel with 



mutules, or projecting slabs on the soffit, or under-surface, as in a 
Doric cornice. 

The only other exit from this part of the seldmlik is through a double- 
leafed iron-studded gate leading to the outer gardens by the Goths* 
Column. It seems probable that it was through this gate that the 
early visitors to the seldmlik made their entrance. 

Apart from the Baghdad and Revan Kiosks and the Pavilion of the 
Holy Mantle, which are treated elsewhere, there remain only the 
reception-room of the seldmlik (the Maheyin Hilmayun) and the Hall 
of Circumcision [SUnnet Odasi) to be discussed. Of the former I 
can say nothing as to its origin and use, except that it was built by 
Selim, and appears to have been connected with the Pavilion of the 
Holy Mantle in some way or other. Dr Miller,^ quoting from Ahmed 
Rasim, tells us that at a later period the Sultans regularly received the 
pages of the Palace School in these rooms (which she calls the Rooms 
of His Presence) following the first prayer of the morning, and upon 
rare occasions they also received there the members of the Secret 
Council, and the Grand Vizir, the mufti, the two judges of the Army, 
and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

We are now approaching the L-shaped pillared hall which flanks 
the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle on its two outer sides. The terrace 
looking into the gardens is bounded at one end by the Maheyin 
Humayun and at the other by the SUnnet Odasi. 

There appears to be some doubt as to whether this latter building 
was really used for the circumcision of the Princes, but an inspection 
of it leaves httle doubt that this was indeed the case, as should be 
evident from my description. There are several approaches to the 
Hall of Circumcision. Personally I entered it through the small 
door near the Revan Kiosk and across the pillared hall where Dallam 
erected his organ. It can also be reached via the Golden Road past 
the Maheyin Hiimayun, and lastly from the terrace of the Baghdad 
Kiosk through a small door at the side of the fish-pond. 

The Hall of Circumcision was built by Ibrahim in 1641, and is a 

square room with a small carved iron door leading from the pillared 

hall. It is beautifully tiled, and at first glance the domed ceiling 

appears to be tiled as well, but a closer inspection shows it to be painted 

' Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 242. 



to match the walls. The tiling is of various dates, but of especial 
interest are four panels with identical designs and colourings on each 
side of the door. They measure no less than four feet by one foot 
six inches, and earthenware plaques of this size are unknown elsewhere. 

In the lower part of these panels is a design of two deer which, so 
the Director affirms, is unique. Between the windows on the two 
outer sides are deep recesses fitted with a kind of leaden sink and 
running water used in connexion with the function of the room. 
The white and gold carved work at the sides should especially 
be noticed. A heavily embossed brazier occupies the centre of the 

Immediately next the Hall of Circumcision is a small outhouse, 
now used as a lumber-room. It appears to be of fairly recent con- 
struction, and I could fmd out nothing about it. The terrace, now 
enclosed by a glass partition, was clearly once open to the pillared 
hall, which was doubtless protected by awnings such as are described 
by Dallam (see p. 33). 

And here the seldmlik merges into the buildings of the Pavihon 
of the Holy Mantle, which forms part of the chapter on the Third 





I. The Baths of the Seraglio 

1 o so great an extent does the bath enter into the life of every 
Turk, both male and female, from the highest to the lowest, that 
the subject cannot be dismissed with the curt information that the 
SeragHo had many baths once, but that to-day hardly any remain. 

The subject merits a chapter to itself. In order to appreciate what 
the large baths used by the pages and harem girls were like we must 
go to the public baths in the city for descriptions of eyewitnesses. 
Doubtless in some cases the Seraglio baths were more elaborate and 
luxurious, but as far as one can judge the differences were trifling. 

With regard to the personal baths in the Seraglio we are more 
lucky, and two adjacent baths, known as those of the Sultan and 
Sultana, remain intact save for the elaborate hangings, sofas, cushions, 
and suchlike that the disrobing rooms once contained. 

I shall describe them in detail shortly ; but apart from these none 
of the baths remain in any good state of repair. Some have been 
converted into rooms for other purposes, and can only be recognized 
by the perforated domes or general shape of the building. 

The number of baths in the SeragHo was always considerable, 
owing to the fact that, apart from the Sultan and the Sultan Valide, 
each kadin had her own suite which included a bath ; and each separate 
division of both the seldmlik and the Court of the Divan had one also. 
Naturally the number of baths varied considerably, but on an average 
it must have totalled some thirty or more. All baths were heated by 
water introduced under the floor on the Pompeian system, or else 
merely distributed to the various wall fountains on different sides 
of the room. The boilers were usually of copper, like those which 
could once be seen at the Alhambra, in Granada. As far as can be 
ascertained, the boiler-rooms were on a level with the baths, but 
where space was a consideration it seems probable that they were 



underneath in the basement, where there was plenty of room, not 
only for the boilers, but also for the storing of the immense quantities 
of wood which were used for the fires. 

In some cases so great is the state of ruin that a few broken pieces 
of marble and the cock of a fountain are all that remains among the 
debris to show where a bath once existed. 

But let us take the whole Seragho court by court and see exactly 
what survives to-day. When we have done that we can turn to some 
of the few early accounts that have come down to us, which will 
help to give hfe to the cold marble and clothe the dressing-room 
once again with the rich hangings and luxurious sofas which once 
adorned it in such grand profusion. 

In the First Court was the bath of the infirmary, immediately to 
the right of the Imperial Gate. The entire building has long since 
disappeared, but no special interest would attach itself to a hospital 
bath of the Outer Service, so we can at once proceed to the Second 
Court. To the left is the bath of Be§ir Aga, but it is now merely a 
ruin. To the right in the kitchen quarters several fountains and water- 
cocks can be found among the ruins, but no sign of any bath on a 
large enough scale to serve the complete kitchen staff exists. The 
wall fountains were sufficient for ablutions before prayer, and it 
seems highly probable that these members of the Inner Palace service 
would use the public baths in the city. 

With the halberdiers, on the left of the court, things were different, 
for, as we have already seen (p. no), their duties were largely con- 
nected with the harem, and the service was kept complete with its 
courtyard, mosque, eating-room, dormitories, and baths. A glance 
at the plan will remind us that the halberdiers' baths lay to the right 
at the bottom of the stairs. The wall fountains were of white marble, 
as can be seen from the few that remain, but so great is the debris 
that nothing can be said about the decoration or even the general 
scheme of the rooms. A second chamber leads off the main one, and 
apparently served as the tepidarium. The latrines are built against the 
outer side. 

Of the baths in the harem itself, apart from the Sultana's bath, the 
only remaining ones are those leading off the courtyard of the harem 



girls (No. 44 iii the plan), and similar ones I ' discovered ' hidden away 
among the ruins of the so-called girls' hospital (No. 58 in the plan). 

Here again any detailed description is impossible. The former are 
in far the better condition, and remains of marble decoration on the 
walls give us a slight idea of what they were originally like. The 
rooms are very narrow, allowing of no central plunge basin, but 
merely a series of wall fountains. It seems probable, however, that 
a massage marble slab once adorned the middle of the main room. 
The same applies to the hospital baths, but the state of these rooms 
is really too bad to permit any further description. 

As already mentioned, the Sultan's bath and the Sultana's are the 
only ones in the Seragho in good repair to-day, and these we shall 
now consider in detail. It was at these baths that the haremlik and 
the selamlik met. A corridor, known as the Hamam Yolu (Corridor 
of the Bath), connected the Sultana's suite with the Hunkar Sofasi 
(Royal Saloon), and from the corridor itself access was gained to 
both baths. The Sultan's bath [Hiinkdr Hamami) is the more import- 
ant of the two, and is, moreover, the only one open to the general 
public, so I shall describe that first. 

It consists of the usual three rooms, the general scheme through- 
out being one of brighmess and lightness, white marble and tall 
narrow columns with stalactitic capitals being employed. On enter- 
ing from the corridor one fmds oneself in a small room almost 
entirely devoid of decoration, so that it is difficult for the imagination 
to clothe the walls with gorgeous golden hangings encrusted with 
myriads of pearls like those still to be seen in the Seraglio Museum. 
Heavy Persian rugs covered the floors, and low sofas upholstered in 
gold and silver embroideries and piled up with cushions lined the 
walls. A bejewelled nargileh and coffee-set practically completed the 
furniture of the room, in which one at once recognizes the undressing- 
and rest-room of the baths. In 1934 a rather pathetic attempt was 
made to enable tourists to recognize the original function of the 
room by the installing of a sofa with white hangings along the right- 
hand side. 

On the left is a small lavatory of the usual Turkish type, to the 
right of which another doorway leads into the Hunkar Sofasi. 

The second room is the tepidarium. From a central corridor small 



rooms lead off either side, the entrance to each being flanked with 
slender white columns. That on the left contains a marble wall 

A lavish use of white marble, relieved by the introduction of 
gilt iron-work, makes the third and last room — the calidarium — the 
most beautiful of them all. Here there is httle call on the imagina- 
tion, as everything being of marble or iron has remained in situ. 
Passing in through a fmely wrought iron-gilt door, one is at once 
attracted by a really beautiful cascade wall fountain immediately 
opposite at the end of the room. A closer inspection will show that 
the boiling water was introduced from a boiler in a room behind. 
The water fell into a marble bath beneath, which, raised on a marble 
step, stretches the entire breadth of the central part of the wall. 
The bath itself is narrow and long, like ordinary Western baths, and 
at each end is a seat with a high back and a single arm-rest facing the 
room, displaying a conventional decoration in a panelled surround. 
All is in white marble. In front of the bath is a movable concave 
stepping-stone, also of white marble. In each corner of the room 
on either side of the bath is a beautiful wall fountain enclosed by 
four tall pillars similar to those in the second room, the only free 
one, however, being that nearest the centre of the room. 

To the left of the entrance is the chief wall fountain, where the 
more intimate operations of the bath were carried on. It is raised 
on a semicircular platform, and is divided from the rest of the 
room by a pierced gilt partition with a door in the centre. A small 
window to the right looks into the left-hand comer fountain-room 
between the four pillars. On the opposite side is a similar, though 
much less important, wall fountain. It has no separate partition, but 
a small window commands a view of the tepidarium. 

Thus we see that the three-room arrangement of the ordinary 
public baths was closely followed in the Royal seldmlik. The hottest 
water would be in the long bath, and the wall fountains would be 
regulated at varying temperatures according to the purposes they 
served. In the second room the water would be much cooler, for 
use in closing the pores of the skin in preparation for the most 
wonderful part of the bath — the relaxation in the rest-room to the 
accompaniment of the soothing nargileh, the slices of melon covered 



with snow, the steaming black coffee in the bejewelled ^w/an, the 
crystal glass of delicately perfumed sherbet, or whatever else Royal 
fancy might dictate. 

The Sultana's rooms lie exactly parallel to those of the Sultan, and 
are so similar as hardly to merit a separate description. The entrance 
is not direct from the Corridor of the Bath, but is through a narrow 
passage leading off on the harem side. The first room is quite bare, 
being entirely stripped of the gorgeous hangings and sofas that once 
made it a rest-room worthy of its Royal occupant. Unlike the cor- 
responding room in the Sultan's bath suite, it has a small window 
looking out into the corridor. The small lavatory lies in the left-hand 
corner of the first room as one goes in. 

The second room closely resembles that in the Sultan's suite, and 
has a marble wall fountain and small window looking into the third 
room, which one now enters. It is at once noticed that the bath is 
not centred along the end wall, but stretches flush with the right- 
hand wall. It is broader than the Sultan's, has no side-seats and only 
one fountain, to the left of the bath. The rest of the room is similar 
to the adjoining one, having a gilded wrought-iron partition and a 
wall fountain on each side. 

It is quite possible that other baths once existed in the ruined por- 
tion of the seldmlik beyond the hbrary of Ahmed I (No. 88 in the 
plan), but if so no trace remains, and no account has come down to 
us. Records exist of the building of at least two baths during the 
reign of Murad III (1574-95), but except that the work was carried 
out by Greek workmen nothing further appears to be known. 

I shall now turn to the only other remaining baths in the Seraglio, 
the so-called baths of Sehm II, situated on the right-hand side of the 
Third Court. As can be seen in the plan (Nos. 103 and 104), there 
are several rooms of varying shapes and sizes in this part of the court. 
The main room, supported by fourteen heavy stone pillars, was used 
as one of the halls of the Palace School, and known as the Hall of 
Campaign {Seferli Kogu§u), but the proximity to water is obvious 
from the fact that the pages of this hall were entrusted with the wash- 
ing of the Sultan's linen. Leading out of this room was a second one 
of equal length, but not so broad, described to-day as the " Rest-room 
of bath of Selim II," while a small adjoining chamber contained 



the large copper boilers. Farther to the right are two square rooms 
of equal size and closely resembling each other in architectural detail. 
These rooms at once suggest both by their massive type of stone- 
work and by their high vaulting that at one time they all formed 
part of a large and elaborate hamam. Yet from the time of Selim I 
(1512-20) the farthest one had been used as a treasury, and its twin 
was simply described as "Dressing-room of bath of Selim II." To- 
day this latter room houses the silver and crystal-ware of the Palace, 
while the other rooms have been altered to display the famous 
porcelain collection. 

The difficulty of assigning these rooms to their original uses as part 
of the baths of the Palace School may possibly be somewhat cleared 
up by a reference to Tavernier's chapter on "The Baths of the Ser- 
aglio." At any rate, it will give readers the opportunity of drawing 
their own conclusions, while the actual description of the rooms 
affords a very good idea of the elaborate system of marble and faience 

I come now to the Great Bath, which is adjoyning to the Chamber 
of the Hamangihachi, who is the chief Overseer of it, and which makes 
part of the Appartment of the Seferlis, or the Grand Seignor's Laundry- 
men.' The place where they put off their Cloaths is a spacious Louver, 
or Banquetting-house of Freestone, high enough, and in one of the 
most eminent parts of the Seragho. The Floor is pav'd with a very 
delightful kind of Marble laid in squared pieces, and it has two large 
Windows jutting out upon the Gardens, somewhat hke Balconies, 
from which you have a Prospect of the two Seas. In the midst of that 
Domo or Louver, you find a Fountain, the water whereof is receiv'd 
into two Basins, or Cisterns : The former, which is the highest, and 
withal the least, is of one piece of White Marble, having in it a Httle 
intermixture of Red and Black Veins, and pierc'd through at six 
several places, for the reception of so many small Pipes of Copper, 
through which the water falls down into the other Basin, which is also 
of Marble, of several pieces, and several colours. . . . On one side of 
the Fountain, which is in the midst of the Domo, there is an entrance 
into the bath, and near that is the Hall, where they uncloath themselves 

• The significance of the word Seferli appears to have been twofold — referring to both 
expeditions and laundries. The word seferi actually means ' on a war footing ' or merely 
'appertaining to a journey.' The pages attached to the Seferli Oda were responsible for 
washing the Sultan's clothes both before and after campaigns and journeys. Hence, 
apparently, the connexion. 



in the Winter-time. A little Gallery which Ues on the left hand, leads 
to the places design'd for the easing of nature, and every seat has a 
little Cock, which supphes them with water to wash themselves, after 
they have done. ... At the end of the Gallery, there is a door which 
gives you passage into three Chambers, which are so many Baths for 
the use of the Grand Seignor's Quarter. There is adjoyning to the last 
of those Chambers a spacious place pav'd Checquerwise with Marble 
of different colours, and there the Ichoglans are trimm'd. This place 
has a little eminency in the midst of it, from which there is a gentle 
descent of all sides, that the water wherewith the Barbers wash their 
Heads and Beards may the more easily be carried off, and the place be 
alwaies kept clean. On both sides of the Wall, whereby it is enclos'd, 
there is a great double Cock, with two Keyes belonging to it, which, 
at the same mouth, supplyes them alternately with either hot water, or 
cold, and that falls into a Basin or Receptacle of White Marble, wherein 
three or four men may bathe themselves without any inconvenience, 
or trouble one to the other. There is also at one of the ends a little 
Room of Black and White Marble, and there the Barbers, who have 
no knowledge of any other Profession, put up all their necessary 
Utensils and Instruments, as Razors, Hones, Balls, and those Irons 
wherewith they pare their Nails. . . . Opposite to the Chamber of 
the Barbers, there are three other Rooms arch'd with Marble, the 
largest whereof much surpasses in Beauty those that are adjoyning to 
it. The Floor of it is of white and black Marble, and the Walls are 
done about with square pieces, that are white and blew, and in every 
one of them you fmd a Flower in emboss' d Work, done to the Life, 
and which a man would take for enamell. Little Lamines or Plates 
of Gold cover the junctures of those square pieces, and there cannot 
any thing be imagin'd more pleasant and divertive than that Chamber 
is. In the Roof of it, there are several round holes, of about half a foot 
diameter, over which there are httle Glasses made in the fashion of 
Bells, order'd as the Venice-Looking-Glasses are, lest any one should 
have the curiosity to get up to the Roof, and laying himself upon his 
belly think to see what is done in the Bath. The place has no light but 
what it receives by the means of those holes, and while some body is 
in the Bath : But especially when they go out of it, the door is shut, 
the better to keep in the heat, and to prevent their being seen ; which 
might be, if instead of those forementioned holes in the Roof, there 
were Windows below, according to our Mode. All the other Baths 
have their Structures after the same manner, and having no light but 
what comes at httle glaz'd holes, there is not any passage into it, but 
that of the door, to the end that being presently shut, the heat might 
the better be kept within the Bath, and to prevent their being seen who 

o 209 


are in it. The Second Chamber is another Bath, but as to Beauty, it 
is much inferiour to the other ; And as for the third, there is something 
in it which is singularly remarkable. The Floor of it is layd as with a 
sort of small stones, so as that the foot cannot shp, though it be wetted 
at their departure out of the Bath : And the whole Room is done all 
about with square pieces, having in them flowers of emboss'd work, 
done to the Life, and covered with Gold and Azure. This is the place 
into which the Grand Seignor enters, when he comes out of the Bath; 
and he alwaies goes into it alone, when he intends to shave himself in 
those parts, which are not to be nam'd without immodesty.^ 

This interesting, if somewhat muddled account, was written about 
1666 from information received during Tavernier's sixth voyage, and 
describes the Seraglio baths in the time of Muhammad IV (1648-87). 
A shorter, but much clearer, account was given in 1635 by Evliya 
Efendi when he was personally received into the private rooms of 
Murad IV (1623-40) : 

On the night that I read the Koran I had the good fortune to see the 
imperial bath, with which no other in the world can be compared. 
The four sides of it are assigned to the use of the pages, and in the centre 
there is an inclosed bath for the emperor. Water rushes in on all sides 
from fountains and basins, through pipes of gold and silver ; and the 
basins which receive the water are inlaid with the same metals. Into 
some of these basins, hot and cold water run from the same pipe. 
The pavement is a beautiful mosaic of variegated stones which dazzle 
the eye. The walls are scented with roses, musk, and amber ; and aloes 
is kept constantly burning in censors. The Hght is increased by the 
splendour and brilliancy of the windows. The walls are dry, the air 
temperate, and all the basins of fine white marble. The dressing- 
rooms are furnished with seats of gold and silver. The great cupola of 
the first dressing-room, all of bright marble, may be equalled by that 
of Cairo only. As this bath stands upon a rising ground it towers to 
the heavens: its windows all look towards the sea, to Scutari and 
Kazi-koi. On the right of the door of the dressing-room is the room 
for the musicians (motrib-khdn) and on the left, the cupola of the inner 
treasury {Khazaneh Khds)? 

And with those two descriptions of the baths of the Sultan and 
his pages we shall have to be content. It seems to be fairly obvious 
that individual taste of each Sultan would be sufficiently responsible 

' New Relation, p. 41 et seq. » Narrative of Travels, I, p. 181. 



for any alterations such as the building of additional rooms or the 
dividing up of a large hall into several compartments. It was only in 
later years when the seldmlik began to encroach more and more on 
the harem that the Royal bath was built side by side with that of the 

2. Other Royal Baths in the City 

At the commencement of the nineteenth century the Sultans began 
to tire of the Seraglio as the Royal residence, and their eyes turned 
more and more to the wider spaces on the Bosphorus. The most 
beautiful sites were selected for palaces, which varied in size and style 
of architecture according to the taste of the Sultan. Naturally every 
palace had large and costly baths, but as time went on the tendency 
was to abandon the three-room variety, and concentrate in rococo 
marble decoration in a single room based more upon European 
models, particularly as the introduction of large mirrors demanded 
a flat wall rather than a curved surface. 

Thus the bathroom at Dolma Baghtche is composed entirely of 
veined Egyptian alabaster, with clusters of pillars, heavy cornices, 
and dadoes of the same material. The whole is surmounted by a 
dome of coloured glass through which the light lends added brilliance 
to the polished floor and silver fittings of the room. Similar rooms, 
though less elaborate, were built between 1853 ^^^ 1874 at other 
palaces, such as Beylerbey, Tcheragan, and Yildiz. The palace at 
Beylerbey was built by Abd ul-Aziz in 1865, but it replaced a former 
one erected by Mahmud II (1808-39) in which the old three-room 
bath could still be seen, and therefore can be regarded as the link 
between the two varieties. Luckily we have a good description of 
this bath which, coming from the facile pen of Miss Pardoe, is well 
worth reproducing : 

Passing a crimson door, surmounted by a crescent-shaped cornice 
of rich gilding, the visitor enters a small hall, in which stands a basin of 
fine white marble, occupied by two swans, wrought in the same 
material, and appearing to sport in the Hmpid water ; which, escaping 
from this charming fountain, falls through concealed pipes into the 
basins destined to supply the bathers. The cooling-room, opening from 
this dim apartment (where the Hght only penetrates after struggling 
through stars and crescents of painted glass, inlaid in the marble roof 



like clusters of jewels), is hung with draperies of silk, richly em- 
broidered ; and the large mirror which occupies the wall at the lower 
end of the divan, is set in a frame-work of gold and enamel, surmounted 
by the Ottoman arms, skilfully executed; while the divan itself, 
formed of gay-coloured satin, is wrought in silks until it resembles a 
flower-bed ; and the cushions which are scattered over it are of the 
same beautiful and costly description. The bath is a vast hall, of the 
most elegant proportions, hned, and roofed, and paved with marble. 
It is hghted hke the cooling-room, and surmounted by exquisitely- 
imagined fountains ; and gives back a long and subdued echo at every 
footfall which disturbs its deep and dreamy silence.^ 

3. The Public Baths 

So far we have examined only the private baths for the use of the 
Sultan, his household, and other members of the Palace service. 
But unless we get a good idea of the public bath we shall miss many 
things that would lead to a better understanding of the manner in 
which the great majority of the Palace personnel spent such a large 
and, to them, important part of their lives. As the present work is 
chiefly concerned with the harem, more attention will be paid to the 
women's baths, for detailed descriptions of which we are almost 
entirely dependent on the nineteenth-century accounts of lady travel- 
lers. But this is not so bad as it sounds, because, firstly, ladies who 
followed Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, such as Miss Pardoe and Mrs 
Harvey, were shrewd observers and descriptive writers, and, secondly, 
the public baths have changed little, if at all, during the centuries. 
Their traditions have remained unaltered, and the description (given 
at p. 215) of a bath that Bassano da Zara had about 1520 can equally 
well apply to my own experiences in 1934. And as regards the female 
baths, what differences can time effect in the behaviour of a hundred 
naked women out to enjoy every moment of their temporary free- 
dom with idle chatter or scandalous gossip ! 

But before we come to individual descriptions it would be as well 
to realize that, like so many other things in Turkey, the baths are in 
no sense 'Turkish,' but merely Byzantine baths adapted or rebuilt — 
while they in their turn were taken from the still earlier Greek and 
Roman originals. The whole subject is immensely interesting, because 
' Beauties of the Bosphorus, p. 14. 




the history of ' Turkish ' baths is the history of the blending of East 
and West, and, as Urquhart rightly said, "Rome was indebted to her 
strigil as well as to her sword for the conquest of the world." In an 
institution that formed part of the daily life of millions we can see 
reflected not only the development of art and architecture, and the 
manners, customs, fads and fancies, of the ordinary citizen, but the 
rise and fall of nations, the growth and decay of em^pires.' 

Take, for instance, the most famous of all the ancient baths in 
Constantinople — those of Zeuxippus, situated near the site of the 
public gardens between Sancta Sophia and the mosque of Ahmed, near 
the Hippodrome. The very name is romantic. It was here that 
Hercules yoked the steeds of Diomed, and in the neighbouring grove 
he raised an altar to Jupiter. There are many other versions given to 
account for the name of the baths, but the etymological one is as 
good as the others and much more poetical ! At all events this was 
the spot chosen by Septimius Severus to build the most magnificent 
baths ever erected outside Rome. They were intended as a peaceful 
gesture in expiation for his reckless destruction of Byzantium in 
A.D. 196. The proportions were vast, and the famous collection of 
bronze statues there was without rival. Old Gyllius gives us a list 
of most of them, and tells us more of their subsequent history. After 
falling into decay and neglect the baths were rebuilt by Constantine, 
and restored again later by Justinian after the Nika revolt of 532 to 
even greater magnificence. When Muhammad II entered the city 
they were in ruins, but so rich was the material, abounding in every 
known variety of marble, granite, and porphyry columns, severed 
capitals, and general debris, that he used it all for the building of his 
mosque on the summit of the Fourth Hill. 

But if Hercules was connected with the Zeuxippus he had a great 
and highly pertinent rival at the once celebrated bath described by 
Agathius in no less a person than Venus herself, who was not the 

' A full and complete history of the ' Turkish ' bath yet remains to be written. There 
is a modem work in French (Paul Negrier, Les Bains h trauers les ages, Paris, 1925), but 
its scope is rather too wide. We must stiU refer to the excellent articles in Daremberg et 
Saglio, Didionnaire des antiquites, and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Art, under 
Balneum, and to Pauly's Real-Encydopddie under Bdder. Much useful information is to 
be found in Becker's Gallus and Clarikles. See also D. Urquhart, Pillars of Hercules, vol. 
ii, pp. 18-88; Erasmus Wilson, The Eastern or Turkish Bath (London, 1861); and the 
works on Pompeii by Gell and Mau. 



tutelary goddess, but just one of its customers! Gyllius also tells us 
of another bath, called Didymum, in which both sexes bathed 
together, as they did in the luxurious days of Imperial Rome. 
/ Other Byzantine baths, hardly less famous in their day than 

Zeuxippus and all teeming with historical associations, included those 
of Anastasia, Achilles, Arcadius, Blachermae, Carosia, and Constan- 
tine. Of all these only the last survived destruction, and after its 
renovation by Muhammad II was known as the Chukur Hamami, or 
Sunken Bath, either owing to its position in a depression on the 
Fourth Hill, near the famous church of the Holy Apostles, or else 
because it was said to be built on the site of the cisterns of Arcadius. 
The subsequent history of this bath was curious. As time went on it 
was gradually built over, and was entirely lost sight of until its 
rediscovery by M. Texier in 1833. He inspected it carefully, and 
gave a full account in his Byzantine Architecture.^ But its reappearance 
was brief, and in 1889 it was built over again,^ and will probably now 
continue its rest undisturbed for ever. At the same time this is to be 
regretted, from both an architectural and an archaeological point of 
view, because not only is it the oldest bath in the city, but it was 
built almost exactly in accordance with the plans as laid down for a 
Roman bath by Vitruvius. 

Byzantine Constantinople conquered the invading Turks with its 
baths just as it did with so many of its other institutions and customs. 
Several of the old foundations were used again, and much of the 
ruined material was employed in the new structures. In the seven- 
teenth century Evliya Efendi ^ tells us there were some 300 baths, 
and 4536 counting the private ones. The number of public ones 
decreased, and by the end of the nineteenth century there were only 
about 130. To-day the number is rather less. In view of the fact 
that nearly every traveller has given a description of his experiences 
in a 'Turkish' bath,'* it will be sufficient here to translate extracts 

' London, 1864, pp. 159-164. See also vol. iii of the manuscript collection of his 
drawings at the Royal Institute of British Architects, 66, Portland Place, London, W. i. 

* Apparendy the last man to see it was E. A. Grosvenor, who says in his excellent work 
Constantinople (vol. i, p. 360) : "In August 1889, 1 visited the only room that could still 
be entered. With a rope for ladder, I descended to a vaulted room, twelve paces long, 
from which every trace of ornament had disappeared. This chamber . . . was itself 
sealed up the following week." 3 Narrative of Travels, I, p. 181. 

♦ Among numerous descriptions of the baths may be mentioned Nicolay, Quatre premiers 



from one of the earliest accounts in existence (that of BassanodaZara) 
and discuss briefly any points of interest that may arise from it. In 
order, however, to bring the subject up to date I shall quote my own 
experiences when discussing the hot baths at Brusa (pp. 229-232). 

During the time that Bassano was in the employ of the Seraglio 
he took many trips in all parts of Turkey and visited many baths, 
and so was able to make comparisons and get a good idea of all the 
shapes and sizes. He chooses for his detailed description one of the 
large ones, apparently in Constantinople, and says : 

The design of these baths seems to me, especially as far as the domes 
are concerned, to be copied from the Thermae of Diocletian in Rome, 
although very much smaller. At the entrance is a room shaped like 
a church, but round and domed with lead, large and commodious, 
almost Hke the Rotunda at Rome. ... In the middle of this there is 
usually a beautiful basin of fine marble, with a fountain of four jets, 
around which are seats made of brick three cubits long and so high 
from the ground that a man sitting there could not touch the floor 
with his feet. All the vaulting of this first room is of marble slabs. 
The above-mentioned seats are all partitioned by a small wall a cubit 
in height, or by a wooden shutter of a considerable size so that they 
are divided up and allow one to lean on one's elbow. Each of the 
seats is about four cubits wide, and those who wish to bathe can undress 
there. The seat is covered first with a mat, on which is placed a rug or 
tapestry. On wishing to enter and take a bath one must first speak to 
the custodians of the bath, who are stationed around the walls of this 
room, and then to the cashier, who sits in a corner on a stool just as our 
lawyers do. When this is done you may undress on one of those 
seats . . . you must be careful not to show any immodest parts, for 
shameless ones are beaten and thrown out of the baths. When un- 
dressed you make your clothes into a bundle and place it on the seat 
with your hat, cap, or turban which you wear, on top. Your clothes 
wiU not be safe unless you have a servant to guard them, because the 
custodians of the baths themselves will steal your purse and other 
belongings.^ Before you take your shirt off they will give you a 

Livres, p. 59 verso and p. 60 and verso of the English edition, pp. 72-74 of the French ; 
Grelot, Relation nouvelle, pp. 187-192 of the Enghsh edition; Thevenot, Travels into the 
Levant, pp. 31-32; Toumefort, Voyage into the Levant, vol. ii, pp. 314-316; White, Three 
Years in Constantinople, vol. iii, pp. 296-313; A. Slade, Records of Travels in Turkey, 
Greece, etc. (1854), pp. 398-401 ; C. Oscanyan, The Sultan and his People (London, 1857), 
pp. 320-339; E. de Amicis, Constantinople (London, 1896), pp. 160-163. 

* Cf. Thevenot, Travels into the Levant, p. 31 : "Having puU'd off your shirt, you put it 
with your cloaths in the napkin you sate upon, leaving them there without fear that 



long ample towel to cover yourself— that is to say, if you haven't got 
one of your own — and others to dry yourself with. . . , Having then 
covered your privities with the towel, all the rest of you being bare, 
you enter the first room of the bath, where there are always about 
fifteen servants varying with the size of the bath, some shaving, some 
kneading the bones, some washing, so that all are busy at their task set 
them by their master. From this you pass through several rooms all of 
different kinds, each hotter than the last, adorned with fme marble 
and porphyry all round, like the vaulting ; and in each are two water- 
pipes, one hot and the other cold, which flow into marble basins, and 
the water which overflows on to the ground escapes through holes in 
the floor. From here you enter the main part of the bath, which is 
usually spacious and covered with marble so smooth that it is hard to 
stand upright. This place, like the other rooms, is domed and has 
several glass windows tightly shut, the whole being covered above with 
lead. The dome in the middle is very high. In winter the baths are 
heated at midnight (in summer every one washes in cold water), 
thereby consuming vast quantities of wood. They use pine-trees four 
or five cubits long, thicker than a man's thigh, and also a small amount 
of oak. In the centre of this room, which we have called the heart of 
the baths, there is a square stone of marble, porphyry, and very fine 
serpentine, a palm thick, longer than the height of a man, and two 
palms from the ground. It is set on four beautiful marble balls. As 
soon as anybody arrives they are invited to stretch themselves on this 
stone body downward, and one of the servants mounts with his feet 
on your back and pulls out your arms in a certain manner pecuhar to 
them. But it never pleased me, and I would never lie down there, 
although they often begged me to do so. 

Then, when they think they have massaged and pulled you about 
enough on one side, they make you turn over with your body upward 
and then start pulling your arms again until you might well imagine 
it was an exhibition of the strength of Hercules, When you get off* 
this stone you go into another room (whichever you wish) if it is un- 
occupied, either colder or warmer according to your taste. For they 
are not all of the same temperature (as has been said) and there are 
some so hot that they make you sweat, and others moderated to suit 
your wishes, for in the heart of the baths there are many Httle rooms 
like cells all round, but well made and ornamented, and in each is a 
marble basin into which two pipes lead from the wall, one furnishing 
hot and the other cold water. You let as much water as you want run 

anybody will touch them, for the Bagnios are places of Uberty and security, as though 
they were sacred, and there is no cheat ever committed in them, for if any were the Master 
of the Bagnio would be obliged to make good what was lost or embeziled." 



into the basin, and after getting it to the required temperature you 
stop up the pipes. And this method obtains throughout the baths. 
After this you he on the ground close to the basin and one of the 
servants throws water over you from a bowl, while another washes 
you, covering the opening of the little room with a towel. If the 
servants are busy one does both the washing and throwing, while in 
the case of a poor man he has to do both for himself because the 
servants hasten to serve the rich as they are eager for tips [hterally 
'drink-money']. To rub you down they use a kind of bag made of a 
thick dark cloth ; no soap is supphed if you don't bring your own. If 
you want your head, beard, or other hairs shaved a man who special- 
izes in that business will attend to you. So also if you want to get rid 
of your hair in any part without shaving they give you a paste, in a 
different room from the others. The Turks use this paste a great deal, 
for they consider it a sin to have hairs on their private parts, and you 
never fmd any of them, either man or woman, who have any. And in 
this matter the women are more superstitious than the men, and as 
soon as they feel the hairs coming they hurry off to the baths. When 
you have finished washing you change the towel you have been wear- 
ing, which they csllfuta, in the bath, and on coming out a servant 
approaches from behind with a basin to wash your feet again. You 
then return to the first room where you left your clothes, which is 
very slushy from the constant flow of water. Here there is always a 
good coal fire, especially in winter, to dry several shirts at once as well 
as towels for the bathers. When you have sat down the servant washes 
your feet, and as an act of courtesy you are expected to show your 
appreciation by placing your right hand on his head and then putting 
it to your mouth, as is the custom with us in presenting letters. When 
you are dressed it is up to you to recompense the servant as you leave, 
so you go up to the grill where the cashier of the baths has his place 
and give him what you think fit. There is no fixed charge, some give 
him one Aspro, some two, others three, but most people give four.' 

The above account is fairly comprehensive, and calls for little 
comment. We might, however, enlarge on two points — the lack 
of any mention of pattens for the feet and the custom of shaving the 

It would appear quite certain that in Bassano's day wooden pattens 
were not used in the baths. They are not mentioned either by 
Grelot or by Thevenot. It seems quite possible that they were intro- 
duced to Constantinople from Venice, where they had been in use 
' I Costumi et i modi particolari de la vita de Turchi, pp. 2-4. 


for centuries. Bassano's omission could not have been merely an 
oversight, because in the first place he says how difficult it was to 
stand upright, and secondly he mentions the slushy state of the floor 
and how the servant had to wash the feet again on the bather's 
return to his dressing-room. Pattens have several uses. In baths 
heated from below they are most useful in preserving tender feet 
from the heated marble. They also stop slipping on the wet floor. 
When I attempted to walk round the marble basin in one of the 
Brusa baths on bare feet I discovered it was both difficult and risky, 
but once pattens were worn progress was unhindered. Lastly, they 
keep you well above all flowing water and far less pure liquids that 
from time to time pollute the floor. This fact was very clearly brought 
home to me in the Turkish lavatory of my ' hotel ' at Brusa, when 
suddenly without any warning the dirty water from other parts of 
the house flowed under my feet, which luckily were shod in high 
wooden pattens ! 

By the seventeenth century shops of patten-makers were common. 
The pattens [nalin) were of plain walnut or box, with a leather strap 
nailed to the hollow each side. More costly ones were of rosewood, 
ebony, sandalwood, or other rarer woods, studded with silver nails, 
with a strap of coloured leather embroidered with gold. In the Royal 
harem the pattens of the kadins were even more luxurious, being inlaid 
with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell, with straps studded with 
pearls and turquoises. There is something coquettish in the use of 
high pattens, and in the seventeenth century the Venetian chopines 
were sometimes half a yard high." They were in common use in 
Naples in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and appear con- 
stantly in the literature of the period.^ In England patten-makers are 
mentioned as early as 1400, and became a separate fraternity in 1469. 
Until well into the eighteenth century the uncleaned and unpaved 
roads made pattens for ladies a real necessity, and their adoption in 
Constantinople seems to have come from the West, the ordinary 
clog-like shoes of the Arabs and Persians not being sufficiently high 
to suggest a new use in the baths. 

' See Thomas Coryat, Crudities (London, 161 1), vol. i; p. 400 of the 1905 edition. 
» See, for example, Basile's Pentamerone (1634) in the Penzer-Croce edition (London, 
1932), vol. i, p. 60 n. 2. 



With regard to the removal of hair from the body, we find a 
much more detailed and interesting account of the depilatory given 
by Thevenot in 1656 : 

. . . having shaved your chin, and under the arm-pits, he gives you a 
razor to shave yourself everywhere else ; and you go into one of the 
little chambers that are made in the intervals betwixt the sides, and 
being there, you take off your napkin and hang it upon the door, that 
so every one that sees it may know there is somebody within, which 
will hinder them from coming in, and there you may shave yourself 
at your leisure : If you be afraid that you may hurt yourself with a 
Razor, they give you a bit of Paste, made of a certain mineral, called 
Rusma, beat into a powder, and with hme and water made up into a 
Paste, which they apply to the parts where they would have the hair 
fetcht off, and in less than half a quarter of an hour, all the hair falls 
off with the Paste, by throwing hot water upon it : They know when 
it is time to throw on water by trying if the hair comes off with the 
Paste ; for if it be left too long sticking on the place, after it had eaten 
off the hair, it would corrode the flesh. Rusma is a mineral hke to the 
rust or dross of iron ; it is much in use in Turky, and sold in so great 
quantities, that the Custom of it yields the Grand Signior a consider- 
able Revenue. In Malta they use instead of Rusma, Orpiment, which 
they mingle with hme for the same use.^ 

This rusma is apparently the same as the Syrian dowa ^ and Egyptian 
nilrah mentioned by E. W. Lane in his excellent chapter on the Cairene 
bath 3 and by Burton.'^ It is obvious that rusma contained arsenic, as 
several accounts mention the danger of its " corroding the flesh " unless 
watched very carefully. In Europe to-day the use of depilatories 
containing sulphide of arsenic has been almost entirely abandoned as 
being dangerous, and in their place sulphides of calcium, strontium, 
and barium are substituted. The advantage of a depilatory over a 
razor is that the paste removes the hair at the neck of the follicle, 
while shaving only levels it with the surface of the epidermis and 
it soon grows again — if anything, rather stronger than before. 

The use of tweezers to pluck out the hairs, although both painful 

' Travels into the Levant, pp. 31-32. See also de La Motraye, Travels through Europe, 
vol. i, pp. 95-96, and Flachat, Observations sur le commerce, vol. i, pp. 443-444. 

2 See Alexander Russell, Natural History of Aleppo (second edition, London, 1794), 
pp. 134, 378-379- 

3 Modern Egyptians (London, i860), pp. 336-343. 

* Nights, original edition, vol. iv, p. 256 n. i. See also vol. ii, p. 160 n. 3. 



and laborious, appears to have been largely favoured by women, 
especially in Persia. "The Ladies," says Tavernier, 

not regarding the prohibition of Mahomet, employ their Female 
Slaves for the performance of that Office ; and with a small kind of 
Pincers and twitchers, such as those wherewith we take off the hair of 
the mustachoes, they do with a httle more trouble, but less hazard, 
what that earth [rw^ma] does in less time, but with more danger. Our 
5«/f(jne55e5 are yet too dehcate to imitate the Ladies of Persia; nay the 
men themselves, in Turkey, are not very forward to have that twitch'd 
off with pain, which the Razour can take off without any trouble.^ 

The removal of the pubic hair was even more indispensable to 
the Muslim woman than is that of the axillary hair to the * smart ' 
woman of to-day. But it was not only these regions that had to be 
freed of any superfluous growth, but every portion of the body, 
particularly the orifices, including the nostrils and ears. Consequently 
this practice resulted in the most detailed inspection, duly carried out 
by the slave, or possibly by a female friend, who in her turn would 
submit to a similar scrutiny of her body. Such great intimacy 
between women has very naturally given rise to charges of Lesbian- 
ism, which in many cases seem to have been fully warranted. 

Writers are constantly telling us that no husband who wishes his 
wife to remain pure and chaste would dream of allowing her to 
attend a public bath, but unless his means allowed him to install a 
private one at home he would fmd it well-nigh impossible to forbid 
her the former — on both reUgious and sanitary grounds. It will be 
interesting to see what Bassano da Zara has to say on the subject in 
his description of the women's baths early in the sixteenth century : 

Although men own the baths they do not do the washing them- 
selves, for being most particular on this point they employ women 
who wash those who come without a slave or servant. But most of 
the women go in parties of twenty at a time and wash each other in a 
friendly manner — one neighbour with another, and sister with sister. 
But it is common knowledge that as a result of this famihariry in 
washing and massaging women fall very much in love with each other. 
And one often sees a woman in love with another one just like a man 
and woman. And I have known Greek and Turkish women, on seeing 
a lovely young girl, seek occasion to wash with her just to see her naked 

' New Relation, p. 44. 


and handle her. And many women go to baths outside their own 
neighbourhood to do this, although the custom is to go to the baths in 
one's own district. This and many other dishonest things originate 
from women's washing. They often stay together at the baths (if they 
go early in the morning) until the dinner hour, and if they go after they 
stay nearly until evening. I will not omit to mention that well-bred 
womendonotgotothepublicbaths,but havevery fine ones of theirown 
at home in their serragU. ... I will now tell you in what manner the 
middle-class woman goes to the bath, and how often a week. This type 
of woman, then, visits the baths, many of them four times, many three 
times, but every one goes at least once, otherwise she would be known 
as devoid of deHcacy and dirty. But there are two reasons why none 
would miss going. In the first place they cannot pray in church unless 
they have washed, and secondly because as they are otherwise not 
allowed to go out it serves as an excuse for leaving the house. With 
this excuse they can do so, saying they are going to visit the baths, 
when in reahty they go elsewhere. ... It is the custom with Turkish 
women to have two or three Christian slaves, or slaves who once 
were Christians but have renounced their faith. On the head of one of 
these slaves is placed a copper pot, not very big but high and broad hke 
a chamber-pot.^ Inside it they put a chemise of cotton which reaches 
to the ground ; they are worth four or six scudi each according to the 
fineness of the weave, and even men use them, putting them on as soon 
as they have washed, instead of a shirt, to draw off all moisture from 
the flesh and leave the body dry so that they can put their shirt on top 
immediately and get dressed. 

They also have a white chemise, clean hose, and as many towels as 
they want. Then they cover the bowl with a hnen cloth embroidered 
with silk and golden foliage ; and they take a handsome fine-woven 
carpet and a beautiful cushion. On arriving at the baths they first 
spread out the carpet over that provided by the baths, and remove 
their silk cloaks. The pot is placed on the ground in one of the httle 
rooms, with the base uppermost, so that the mistress can sit on it. And 
when she has sat on it the slaves start to wash her, standing one on either 
side. When she thinks they have washed her enough she retires to rest 
in one of the moderately warm rooms, while the slaves wash each 
other. When they have stayed as long as they wish, they put the 
chemises and other garments back into the basin and go home, paying 
the same amount as the men. There are some women who take with 
them a rich repast, and eat it at the baths with the appetite that the 
baths naturally give.^ 

' See plate to chapter xxii of Nicolay's Quatre premiers Livres. 
2 I Costumi et i modi particolari de la vita de Turchi, pp. $-6. 



Bassano must have got his information from rehable sources, for 
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century accounts of lady eyewitnesses can 
add Httle, unless it be to visualize the scene more clearly for us by the 
aid of a facile pen and highly developed power of vivid description. 

In 1 717 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu writes as follows : 

The first sofas were covered with cushions and rich carpets, on 
which sat the ladies ; and on the second, their slaves behind them, but 
without any distinction of rank by their dress, all being in the state of 
nature, that is, in plain EngHsh, stark naked, without any beauty or 
defect concealed. Yet there was not the least wanton smile or im- 
modest gesture amongst them. They walked and moved with the 
same majestic grace which Milton describes of our general mother. 
There were many amongst them as exactly proportioned as ever any 
goddess was drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian — and most of 
their skins shiningly white, only adorned by their beautiful hair 
divided into many tresses, hanging on their shoulders, braided either 
with pearl or ribbon, perfectly representing the figures of the Graces. 

I was here convinced of the truth of a reflection I had often made, 
that if it was the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed. 
I perceived that the ladies with the finest skins and most delicate shapes 
had the greatest share of my admiration, though their faces were some- 
times less beautiful than those of their companions. To tell you the 
truth, I had wickedness enough to wish secretly that Mr. Jervis 
[Charles Jervis, the Irish portrait painter and writer] could have been 
there invisible. I fancy it would have very much improved his art, to 
see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversa- 
tion, some working, others drinking coflee or sherbet, and many 
neghgendy lying on their cushions, while their slaves (generally pretty 
girls of seventeen or eighteen) were employed in braiding their hair 
in several pretty fancies. In short, it is the women's coflee-house, 
where all the news of the town is told, scandal invented, etc. 

Some hundred and twenty years later Miss Pardoe gives us a 
similar description, from which the following lively scene is taken : 

For the first few moments I was bewildered; the heavy, dense, 
sulphureous vapour that filled the place, and almost suffocated me — 
the wild shrill cries of the slaves peahng through the reverberating 
domes of the bathing-halls, enough to awaken the very marble with 
which they were hned — the subdued laughter and whispered conversa- 
tions of their mistresses, murmuring along in an undercurrent of sound 
— the sight of nearly three hundred women, only partially dressed, and 



that in fine linen so perfectly saturated with vapour that it revealed 
the whole outHne of the figure — the busy slaves passing and repassing, 
naked from the waist upwards, and with their arms folded upon their 
bosoms, balancing on their heads piles of fringed or embroidered 
napkins — groups of lovely girls, laughing, chatting, and refreshing 
themselves with sweetmeats, sherbet, and lemonade — parties of playful 
children, apparently quite indifferent to the dense atmosphere which 
made me struggle for breath — and, to crown all, the sudden bursting 
forth of a chorus of voices into one of the wildest and shrillest of 
Turkish melodies, that was caught up and flung back by the echoes of 
the vast hall, making a din worthy of a saturnaha of demons, all com- 
bined to form a picture like the illusory semblance of a phantasma- 
goria, almost leaving me in doubt whether that on which I looked 
were indeed reality, or the mere creation of a distempered brain. . . . 
When at length they venture into the outer hall, they at once spring 
upon their sofas, where the attentive slaves fold them in warm cloths, 
and pour essence upon their hair, which they twist loosely without 
attempting to dislodge the wet, and then cover with handsome head- 
kerchiefs of embroidered mushn ; perfumed water is scattered over the 
face and hands, and the exhausted bather sinks into a luxurious slumber 
beneath a coverlet of satin or of eider-down. The centre of the floor, 
meanwhile, is hke a fair ; sweetmeat, sherbet, and fruit-merchants (old 
crones, who frequently have as many billet-doux as bowls ofyahourt — 
coagulated buttermilk — in their baskets), parade up and down, hawk- 
ing their wares. Negresses pass to and fro with the dinners, or 
chibouques (pipes) of their several mistresses ; secrets are whispered — 
confidences are made ; and, altogether, the scene is so strange, so new, 
and withal so attractive, that no European can fail to be both interested 
and amused by a visit to a Turkish Hammam.^ 

Another account is to be found in Mrs Harvey's Turkish Harems and 
Circassian Homes, ^hut sufficient has now been said to enable us to form 
a very good opinion of what a crowded woman's bath was like. 

There remains, however, to speak of the Bride's Bath, a ceremony 
in which a procession of naked virgins plays an important part, and 
one which a virgin destined for the Sultan's bed would go through in 
a form probably differing little from that witnessed personally by 
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu : 

Those that were or had been married placed themselves round the 
room on the marble sofas ; but the virgins very hastily threw off their 

' Beauties of the Bosphorus, pp. 15-16. ^ London, 1871, pp. 71-81. 



clothes, and appeared without other ornament or covering than their 
own long hair braided with pearl or ribbon. Two of them met the 
bride at the door, conducted by her mother and another grave relation. 
She was a beautiful maid of about seventeen, very richly dressed, and 
sliining with jewels, but was presendy reduced by them to the state of 
nature. Two others filled silver gilt pots with perfume, and began the 
procession, the rest following in pairs to the number of thirty. The 
leaders sung an epithalamium, answered by the others in chorus, and 
the two last led the fair bride, her eyes fixed on the ground, with a 
charming affectation of modesty. In this order they marched round 
the three large rooms of the bagnio. 'Tis not easy to represent to you 
the beauty of this sight, most of them being well proportioned and 
white skinned; all of them perfectly smooth and pohshed by the 
frequent use of bathing. After having made their tour, the bride was 
again led to every matron round the rooms, who saluted her with a 
comphment and a present, some of jewels, others pieces of stuff, 
handkerchiefs, or little gallantries of that nature, which she thanked 
them for by kissing their hands. 

The more intimate details of this charming ceremony, such as the 
depilatory, are omitted, but can be supplied from a manuscript 
diary of one John Richards, and now in the British Museum : 

Upon Solemne Occasions, when a Virgin does prepare herselfe for 
her husbands bead, they make a feast in the Baths to which they Invite 
their ffriends, att w*? time she takes of the Haire of her body w^ she 
never does before, and is allways practised afterwards in these Hot 
Countrys, w'- how much modesty this is done I cannot tell, but I am 
told that it is very Expensive.' 

From the above accounts of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu it would 
appear that it was the custom for the women to bathe in a state of 
complete nudity, or nearly so. And if we are to believe artists who 
have attempted to represent the "Harem Bath" there is no doubt 
whatever about the matter. But whether this was indeed a fact is a 
question that is, of course, quite impossible to answer. At the same 
time it would be interesting if we did know, because if no clothing 
at all was worn it would be entirely contrary to the usual custom 
among Turks, not merely when in public baths, but when several 
bathe together in a bath whether it be public or private. This applies 
equally to men and women. In view of this it is interesting to 

' Stowe MSS., 462, f. 42b. 



read a curious tale about Mahmud I (1730-54), who apparently 
was in the habit of amusing himself with members of the harem in 
various ways. According to Flachat' one of his little jokes was as 
follows : having stationed himself secretly in a window overlooking 
the baths, he would await the arrival of the girls, who would all be 
given a chemise according to custom, imagining that they were the same 
as usual. But the wily King had had all the stitches removed and the 
material tightly glued together. The doors were then locked, and 
the King watched developments as the heat and moisture did their 
work. Some of the girls laughed with surprise as the dress fell away 
in pieces, but others were very angry. This tale might well be true, 
as Flachat undoubtedly had it from his friend the Chief Black Eunuch, 
to whom the Sultan would be certain to relate such an amusing 
experience. Although the harem consisted of so many nationalities 
it must be remembered that their training was strict, and all Turkish 
customs were closely observed. Quite apart from this, an assumed 
modesty, occasioned by the ever-present factor of competition, might 
well produce a reluctancy to disrobe completely before those who 
were, after all, nothing but rivals for the Sultan's preference. 

But we should hesitate to accept as fact what may be merely the 
product of the artistic imagination. 

On the other hand there is a manuscript of the Zandn-ndmeh,^ by 
Fazil (Yildiz 2824-73), in the library of the university of Istanbul, 
which contains a plate showing the interior of a Turkish women's bath. 
This illustration is reproduced opposite p. 224 of the present work. It 
will be seen that the women are almost entirely nude, and no attempt 
whatever is being made to conceal the privities. The attendants wear 
a cloth round the waist, leaving the breast bare. Attention should be 
drawn to the exaggerated pattens worn by a visitor in full costume. 

4. The Hot Baths of Brusa 

We have now examined such baths as still exist in the Seragho, 
and given a brief description of Royal baths in other palaces. We 

' Observations sur le commerce, vol. ii, pp. 28-29. 

* For a French translation of the Zanan-ttameh, or History of Women, sec that by J.-A. 
Decourdemanche (Paris, 1879), especially the section headed Les Baigneuses, pp. 127-133. 

P 225 



have also considered die history of the pubUc baths at different 

There still remain, however, the natural hot baths at Brusa to be 
discussed, not merely because of their general interest from several 
points of view, but because Brusa played a distinct part in the history 
of the Seraglio as the city to which Sultans retired to ' take the cure ' 
when tired out with the excesses of fighting or debauchery, or 
visited with acute attacks of rheumatism and kindred aihiients. 

Brusa, too, was the city in which the Turks first learned to appre- 
ciate the bath. When their capital was changed to Adrianople they 
were already fully initiated, and as cleanliness is so strongly enjoined 
in the Koran the ' Turkish ' bath had come to stay. But at Brusa the 
way was made easy : it was not necessary to rediscover the hypocaust 
of the Romans ; nature had already supphed the boiling water, and 
it merely remained to divert it to the desired baths and basins, cool 
it to different temperatures, and cover the area with some kind of 

Although Brusa has suffered terribly at the hands of invaders, and 
to-day is but a ghost of its former mighty self, the baths still remain 
in perfect working order, and one still can swim in the marble bath 
of Rustem Pasha and enjoy the beauty of the Byzantine and Turkish 
arches and magnificent coloured faience. 

For some reason or other few people go to Brusa nowadays 
(perhaps it is because the Hotel d'Anatolie is no more!), and as 
recently as 1934 the Mayor triumphantly produced from his private 
drawer a book containing about sixty calling cards to prove to me 
that people did still come to the city ! Whatever misfortune may have 
fallen to its lot during the long centuries of its history, its charm and 
beauty still remaia, and, primitive as the hfe and the accommodation 
are to-day, nobody should go to Constantinople without including a 
visit to Brusa. Even if the baths have no interest for them, the glories 
of the Green Mosque and the tombs of the early Sultans more than 
repay any trouble or expense to which the traveller is put. 

Let us therefore first glance briefly at its past history, and then I 
shall add a detailed account not only of the baths themselves, but of 
the actual experiences and sensations that these "Royal Waters'* 
afford to-day. 



Brusa (also spelled Broussa, but known to the Turks as Bursa) was 
founded by Prusias, King of Bithynia, when Hannibal was seeking 
refuge with him. after the defeat of Antiochus at Magnesia in 190 B.C. 
The city was named Prusa after its founder, and for many years was 
the seat of the Bithynian Kings. After the defeat of Mithridates it fell 
into the power of the Romans, and was but a second-rate town under 
the capital of Bithynia, Nicomedia. However, it continued to flourish 
under Roman rule, and its baths began to attract attention. About 
A.D. Ill Pliny the Younger was appointed Governor of Bithynia, 
and did much to beautify Prusa by the erection of pubHc edifices. 
Among these were the pubHc baths, and Pliny devotes a letter to 
Trajan on the subject,^ and says what an ornament to the city the 
proposed baths will be. Although Nicomedia still remained the 
most important town, the fame of the hot springs spread, and a 
temple of i^sculapius and Hygieia was erected near the principal 
spring whither in the third century patricians came for treatment. 

In the reign of Constantine the baths began to acquire a great 
reputation, and several Byzantine Emperors went to Prusa for the 
cure at the " Royal Waters." Justinian erected the first baths on areaUy 
large scale, and built a palace and khans for visitors. The area of the 
hot springs was known as Pythia, but later, under Constantine 
Porphyrogenitus, was changed to SoteropoHs (town of the Savioiu:) 
in gratitude to the healing powers of the waters. Among important 
people who benefited by the baths was the Empress Theodora, wife 
of Justinian. In 525 she journeyed to Brusa with a cortege of 4000 
attendants in golden htters, and is said to have taken a fortnight on 
the journey, being persuaded of the baths' curative powers by the 
good they had already done Justinian. 

Brusa continued to flourish under Roman and Byzantine rule, 
until in the middle of the tenth century, after a year's siege, it was 
captured by Saif al-Dawla of Aleppo. It was, however, soon 
retaken by the Greeks, who restored the town and strengthened the 
walls. By this time the eyes of the Seljuk Turks were turned in its 
direction, and the town fell into their hands at the close of the 
eleventh century. They evacuated it after the capture of Nicaea by 
the Crusaders in 1204, and did not recapture it until 1326, after a 

' Book X, ep. Ixx. 


ten years' siege under Orkhan. From that moment Brusa increased 
in strength and importance. The OsmanH Sultans had found a new 
capital, and after their hfe of wandering and fighting settled down to 
make the city a worthy centre of a new empire. Artists, poets, 
architects, historians, and soldiers flocked to the new capital from all 
parts of the Middle East. The Turks learned the value of the bath, 
and the unwashed days stretching back to Ghengis Edian were over. 
Bit by bit the traditions and culture of the Greeks were to be absorbed 
by their conquerors, until fmally, when Constantinople became the 
capital in 1453, with the adoption of everything Byzantine — the 
secluded Palace, the veil, the harem, eunuchs, ceremonial clothes, 
the weekly visit to the mosque, leaden roofs, red ink for State 
documents, and a hundred other things — the transformation was 

But much was to happen before then, and Brusa was not destined 
to enjoy peace for long. Murad I had changed the capital to Adrian- 
ople in 1 3 61 merely as a means of extending his father's European 
conquests. The hearts of the Osmanhs were still in Brusa, where all 
their first mosques and schools had been built, and where the remains 
of all their early Sultans lay. But the blood-soaked Tamerlane was on 
the way, and after the defeat of Bayezid in 1396 Brusa was sacked 
and reduced to ruins early in the fifteenth century. Only ten years 
were to pass before it was sacked again by the Prince of Karaman. 
Fires and earthquakes played further havoc in modern times, destroy- 
ing many of the restorations made by SeHm I and Suleiman. But in 
spite of all these vicissitudes the famous baths of Brusa remain, and 
once we are inside their time-honoured walls past and present have no 
meaning, and the centuries roll back to be halted at our will, whether 
it be in the days of Suleiman the Magnificent, Orkhan the Conqueror, 
or Justinian the Lawgiver. 

The baths of Brusa he about a mile and a half out of the town in 
the direction of Mudania in or near the Httle village of Chekirge 
('locust'), which, as we have already noticed, was once called Pythia. 
The whole district is impregnated with sulphur and iron from some 
half-dozen springs originating in sources on the lower slopes of 
Mount Olympus. 

There are two main iron springs which supply Eski KapUja and 



Kara Mustafa, and two sulphur springs feeding Yeni Kaplija and 
Beuyiik Kiikiirtlu. On leaving Brusa in a north-easterly direction 
you follow the Mudania road for nearly a mile, when you see in 
front of you a most picturesque group of curiously domed buildings, 
"the biggest of which is magnificent, and has four great Domes 
cover'd with lead, bor'd like a Skimmer ; and all the Holes of these 
Domes are clos'd with Glass-Bells like those the Gardiners use to 
cover Melons withal."^ 

This is the Yeni Kaplija, built, or restored, by Rustem Pasha, Grand 
Vizir and son-in-law of Suleiman, as a thank-offering for the Sultan's 
cure of the gout. The temperature is very considerable, as the spring 
rises at 195 degrees. Immediately to the right is the small Kainarja 
bath for women, while the Kara Mustafa lies only a few paces to the 
left. On the southern side of the road are the Beuyiik and Ku9uk 
Kiikiirtlu sulphur baths, the spring of which rises at 178 degrees. 
This completes the group, and now we must branch off on the forked 
road to Chekirge, where the Eski Kaplija stands alone. The mosque 
and tiirbeh of Murad I are close by, and remind us of the importance 
of the baths in the early Ottoman period, but according to tradition 
it was these very baths to which Justinian and Theodora came in 
the sixth century. The water comes down at a temperature of 117 
degrees Fahrenheit, and consequently does not need such a dilution of 
cold water as is required at the Yeni Kaplija. In general architectural 
details the baths differ but Httle. In all cases the first room is by far 
the largest, the second room the smallest, and the third, and hottest, 
room of medium size. The Eski Kaplija is interesting on account of 
its fme Byzantine capitals, from which the arches spring with an 
impost. The Yeni Kaplija is famous chiefly for its beautiful coloured 
faience and typical Turkish arches. I have spent many happy hours 
in both the baths, and the following account of my experiences 
therein can apply to both equally well. 

On entering the first room I am at once conscious of a curious 
change of atmosphere, due not merely to the difference of tempera- 
ture, which is not so noticeable on a warm day, but to other factors 
which at first are hard to determine. But on starting to look round 
I begin to reahze what they are. Space is undoubtedly the first 
* Toumefort, Voyage into the Levant, vol. iii, p. 310. 


factor — vast empty space, occasioned by the two large cupolas and 
high walls. Then there is the silence, and perhaps it is this that has 
subconsciously impressed me most. Then the weird array of towel- 
clad figures, looking like so many mummies awaiting burial, doubt- 
less adds to the strange atmosphere of the place. The only sounds to 
break the silence are the splash of the water in the marble fountain in 
the centre and the occasional shuffling of some bather on his wooden 
pattens as he makes his way to the warmer room, to which I myself 
am shortly to be introduced. A further inspection of the hall shows 
it to be surrounded with low couches and cubicles, for the use of the 
poorer and richer customers respectively. At the far end of the hall 
are huge wooden towel-drying frames, and if custom has been good 
additional lines of towels stretch high up right across the hall. 

I retire to a cubicle and undress. There is no need here to wrap 
one's clothes in a bundle; no one will intrude. But on the long 
benches I notice two soldiers who make their clothes into a neat 
bundle and put their caps on the top exactly in the manner described 
by Bassano about 1520. I now wrap a towel round my middle, and, 
having put my feet into the strap of the pattens, shuffle my way into 
the second room — the tepidarium of the Romans. Here the rise in 
temperature is very noticeable, and although a certain amount of 
steam is present one soon gets used to the atmosphere. In the middle 
is a fountain of hot water, with large copper bowls for pouring the 
water over one's head. I am told, however, that it is for use after the 
bath and not now. So I pass on round the room, which is only half 
the size of the first and domed with a single cupola. 

To the right and left small rooms lead off— some for massage and 
the depilatory, while others serve as latrines. The bather who 
determines to 'do the thing properly' calls for a masseur, who 
immediately leads the victim to a place apart. In the Eski Kaphja 
a comer between the Byzantine columns is usually chosen, while in 
the Yeni Kaplija space is not such an important factor, and a small 
room can be selected at will. I am at once put into a small marble 
bath, where I boil for about twenty minutes in water I can hardly 
bear. I am then conducted to a marble slab, and the massage begins 
in real earnest. It consists of two distinct parts, massage with the 
glove and massage with the bare hand. The first is quite pleasant,. 



and the novice is intrigued by the rolls of dried skin and dirt that are 
triumphantly shown him by the masseur. The glove having been 
discarded, the manual massage starts — with a severity that would 
make the feeble collapse. The powerful fmgers are worked in 
between the shoulder-blades till they crack, and the backbone is 
pressed so hard that one can only just endure without calling out or 
trying to do something by way of revenge. For by this time I had 
ceased to regard the masseur as a friend, but rather as a fiend who 
for some reason entirely unknown to myself was determined not 
to leave a whole bone in my body if he could help it. But the tor- 
ture continues. The arms are now pulled out to their furthest extent, 
Hkewise the legs, and both are submitted to such a drastic treatment 
that I was surprised to fmd they hadn't been wrenched from my body. 
One certainly has a greater fellow-feeling for victims of the Inquisi- 
tion than one ever had before. 

But the worst is over, and the next process comes as a great relief, 
consisting of a complete lathering of the body from head to foot. 
I am now left to recover, which, to my own surprise and satisfaction, 
I gradually do ; whereupon I am informed that I can now proceed 
to the third and hottest room. In the Yeni Kaplija the temperature 
is reaUy excessive, especially as there is no outlet for the steam. 
Immediately on entering I experience the most strange feelings — 
a mixture of curiosity and shyness, if not actual fear. Everything 
seems different. The atmosphere has now become heavy. Figures 
lie or move slowly, like shadows in the underworld. With Ulysses 
or i^neas I wonder who these strange and silent spectres are that 
appear and disappear in the steam-laden gloom. Suddenly the clank 
of a copper bowl, the noise of shuffling pattens, or the splash of a 
swimmer recalls me to my senses, and as I gradually accustom my 
eyes to this strange element in which I fmd myself living for the first 
time I begin to examine the room and get an idea of what it contains 
and what I should do next myself. For nobody is with me. I was 
just pushed in and left ! 

But try as I will it is impossible to be rid of the illusion that I am 
in some unearthly place, and a nervous fear seizes me, lest by some 
erroneous movement or action I betray myself and hollow, vapor- 
ous laughter proclaim my ignorance or clumsiness. But all is pure 



imagination, and as I penetrate into the room and gradually make 
my way round the circular marble rim of the central basin I pass 
naked bodies lying prone on the floor, or crouching in odd corners, 
or seated near one of the side-baths, or bending over a wall fountain 
looking for all the world Uke figures from a Greek vase magnified 
to life-size by some magician's art. Time stands still, and, like the 
lotus-eaters of old, I take no thought of to-morrow, and begin to 
enjoy that strange feeling of warm contentment and relaxation that 
only these baths can give. It is with a Herculean effort that one moves 
at all, but gradually I creep towards the basin and slowly lower 
myself into the water and experience the curious sensation of swim- 
ming in nearly boiling water. The effort wakes me from my stupor, 
and when I return to the second room it seems almost cold by com- 
parison. Here I gradually cool off with the help of bowls of tepid 
water and proceed to a far corner of the room, where I discard the 
red towel I have worn up till now and receive three fresh towels 
round my body, a fourth being wrapped round the head like a 
turban, and a fifth put in my hands to mop the perspiration that still 
pours from my face. 

And now comes the reward of the bath — that feeling of bodily 
satisfaction, cleanliness, and freshness that transcends the ken of mortal 
man and elevates one to heights ethereal. I lie hke a king on my 
couch and, clapping my hands in true Oriental fashion, call for 
cigarettes and coffee. Troubles and trials are forgotten, and as my 
smoke curls upward to the great space above I only hope this modem 
burnt offering will reach the throne of Olympian Zeus, at the foot 
of whose mighty home I lie. 




XvouGHLY Speaking, the Third Court is only half the size of the 
Second. It includes the various buildings of the Palace School (now 
the Museum), the Inner Treasury, the Pavihon of the Holy Mantle 
and Sacred Relics, and the mosque (now the New Library) ; there 
are also the two detached buildings — the Arzodasi, with which we 
are already famihar, and the Kutuphanesi, or Library, of Ahmed III. 

I shall discuss these two latter buildings first. 

The Arzodasi is a rectangular building of a single story with an 
overhanging roof supported by a pillared marble colonnade running 
completely round the building. There are twenty-two pillars in all, 
the majority being marble, but some of granite. 

The gentle slope of the ground away from the Gate of FeUcity 
necessitates steps at the far side of the Arzodasi. They descend in a 
double flight of some dozen steps each. Although the building 
underwent restorations during the reigns of Mustafa II, Ahmed III, 
and Abd ul-Mejid, the general scheme of the structure as built by 
Muhammad II has been preserved, and portions are said to date from 
the fifteenth century. The interior is divided into two unequal parts, 
the larger, on the harem side, being the actual Audience or Throne 
Room ; the smaller one, originally panelled with sheets of gold and 
silver, apparently acted as an anteroom for the use of ambassadors 
and important personages seeking audience with the Sultan. The 
walls contain much good second-period tiling, and attention should 
be drawn to the lovely chimney-piece which Bon described as being 
** entirely covered with sheets of silver purfled with gold." There is 
also an interesting cascade fountain, so arranged, according to Palace 
tradition, that the noise of the water falling from one basin to another 
should cover conversations not meant to be heard by the attendants. 
As already mentioned in a previous chapter, the throne can best be 
described as a low four-poster bed. It still displays some of the ornate 
decorations on the pillars and canopy, which once was heavy with 



gold and jewels, and with elaborate jewelled silk tassels, which hung 
down over the Sultan's head. It is situated in the left-hand corner 
of the room, with the fireplace to the left and the cascade fountain 
to the right. 

According to Tavemier ' there were eight separate coverings for 
the throne, all kept in the Treasury until they were wanted. The 
first was of black velvet embroidered with pearls, the second of white 
velvet with rubies and emeralds set in bezels or collets, the third of 
violet velvet with turquoises and pearls, the next three of velvets of 
other colours embroidered in gold, while the last two were gold 
brocades. The particular covering chosen differed with the status of 
each ambassador. 

Mention should be made of the charming wall fountain in the 
passage between the two rooms, with a fine panel of tiling, sur- 
mounted by the royal tugra, or monogram, to the left. 

Immediately beyond the Arzodasi, but slightly to the left, or harem, 
side, is the Kiitiiphanesi, or Library, of Ahmed III. Several authorities 
state that it was erected in 1767 by Mustafa III, but possibly an earlier 
one occupied the same site. It is a cruciform building approached by 
a double flight of stone steps, which leads through a fme bronze 
door into a vestibule which occupies one of the arms of the building. 
The opposite one is a windowed recess lined with a low sofa and 
with tiling above. The lateral arms, somewhat larger than the others, 
are also tiled and occupied by large bookcases with glass doors. 
Twelve marble columns support the high dome, from which a huge 
lantern depends. A brazier, Kordn-stsmds, odd chairs, and stools, two 
or three book-cupboards, a large carpet, and several rugs complete 
the furniture of the library. With regard to the hbrary itself many 
wild statements have been made, but recent inspection of the manu- 
scripts (of which there are some 5000 in all) has failed to discover any 
treasure of outstanding value.^ According to Gaselee the best manu- 

' New Relation, p. 38. 

* See F. Blass, " Die griechischen und lateinischen Handschriften im alten Serail zu 
Konstantinopel," Hermes, vol. xxiii (Berlin, 1888), pp. 219-233; Stephen Gaselee, The 
Greek Manuscripts in the Old Seraglio at Constantinople, a pamphlet of fourteen pages 
(Cambridge, 1916) ; C, P. Vegleres in the quinquagenary number of the 'EAXr/i/tKcis 
4>tAoAoytKos IvkXoyos, pp. 172-182; and especially D. A. Deissmann, Forschungen 
und Funde im Serai (Berlin and Leipzig, 1933). 



'•'if ••##«0»## 


^WWt-^ ^^ ^ J" 



script was that by Critoboulus, being the only original Greek 
account of the fall of Constantinople. 

In a general account on the library written in 1845 Charles White* 
says that it is more diversified than any other in the capital. Its con- 
tents embrace all subjects, including a magnificent edition of the 
Romance of Antar upon metallic paper, and another of the Gulistdn 
of Sadi. It possesses Kordns transcribed by divers CaHphs and a col- 
lection of portraits of Sultans painted upon a broad roll of canvas, 
which are taken from a quarto volume containing the original 
portraits of the Sultans and many of their children, with a preface and 
short panegyric of each. 

The library is closed to the public, and, as far as I could see, con- 
tains very few printed books at all. These are now housed in the 
building just across the court (No. 98 in the plan) which was origin- 
ally the mosque of the Inner Service. I shall return to it later. 

In 1719-20 it appears that Ahmed III founded a private Hbrary 
somewhere between the mosque and the courtyard of the Kafes, 
and it was here that the rarer manuscripts were kept. Whether 
this has any connexion with that of Ahmed I (No. 88 in the plan) I 
cannot say. 

There seem to have always been two main Ubraries in the Seraglio, 
one for the Sultan and the other for the general use of the pages. 

The first account I can fmd of two separate libraries in the Seragho 
is contained in the manuscript of Hierosolimitano (161 1), to which 
reference has already been made in chapter ii. One of these libraries 
is described as "pubhc,"on the men's side, while the other was pri- 
vate and "further inside." It seems to have closely resembled that of 
Ahmed III in its general arrangement. "On both sides," writes 
Hierosolimitano , 

are two cupboards with glass doors, and there are always kept in these 
cupboards some two dozen illuminated volumes such as he [the Sultan] 
wishes to read ; and the cupboards are low so that a person squatting 
in Turkish fashion can see the books which are visible through the 
transparent glass and conveniently take them out and read them. 
Above each of these cupboards is an open shelf on which every 
Wednesday morning are placed three purses full of coins, one of gold 
and two of silver, all freshly minted, for donations and alms. 
' Three Years in Constantinople, vol. ii, p. 192. 



In the library which is behind where the attendants and pages dwell 
are books of every kind and language, and of great beauty. In par- 
ticular there are 120 works on Constantine the Great, each two ells in 
breadth (that is to say, three spans each) and over three in length — of 
vellum as thin as silk. There are manuscripts of the Old and New 
Testaments, other histories, and lives of the saints all in letters of gold 
and bound in silver gilt, tooled and inlaid with jewels of inestimable 
value. And nobody at all is allowed to touch them.* 

At one time many other smaller libraries existed in the Seraglio, 
as each oda had its own library. Until comparatively recently quite 
a large number of books and manuscripts were to be seen in the 
antechamber of the Arzodasi. A few years ago it was decided to 
collect all the books together into a single library and furnish it on 
modem lines. 

The disused Palace School mosque {Agalar Camii), which juts out 
sideways into the Third Court, was chosen for this new library 
{Yeni Kutiiphane), while the adjacent little mosque of Ahmed 
(SuUanahmet Camii) was converted into an excellent reading-room 
[Miitalea Salonu), where students are allowed to study from any of 
the 12,000 volumes which this new composite library is said to 
contain. The building is of red brick, rectangular in shape, and sur- 
mounted by a cylindrical vaulted roof. It is well Hghted by two 
floors of windows. At the western end a low cement enclosure, with 
an old fountain in the middle, has recently been built. 

According to Halil Edhem,^ who examined the building from an 
architectural point of view, the plan was originally square and not 
rectangular, and had a centre cupola flanked by a smaller one each 
side on a lower level. 

Immediately behind the New Library is the harem mosque, with 
a latticed window connecting the two. 

With the exception of the group of buildings knov^Ti collectively 
as the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle and the Treasury, the rest of the 
Third Court was devoted to the Palace School, with its various halls, 
dormitories, classrooms, baths, etc. 

So great have been the alterations in such buildings of the Palace 
School as do remain that, unless he has previously made himself 

* F. 104. * Nos Mosquees de Stamboul (Istanbul, 1934), p. 54. 



familiar with the history of this extraordinary miHtary School of 
State, the student will find it difficult to reconstruct it architecturally 
by what he sees to-day. To put it briefly, the sites of the different 
odas, or chambers, of the school are to-day occupied by the collec- 
tions of porcelain, glass, costumes, etc., or else by the Museum 
directorate. Even if an inspection of them all is obtained, modern 
partitions, the heightening of rooms by the demolition of an upper 
floor, and many other similar renovations make it impossible to 
recognize anything from early descriptions — except possibly the 
so-called Baths of Selim II. At the same time it is necessary to have 
some rough idea of the working of the Palace School, which formed 
so important a part of the Seraglio and was the one good influence 
that to a large extent counteracted the pernicious effects of harem 
rule. The best modern accounts are undoubtedly those of Professor 
A. H. Lybyer ' and Dr Bamette MiUer,^ and embody the sixteenth- 
century accounts of such men as Spandugino, Junis Bey, Ramberti, 
Geuflroy, Navagero, and Menavino. 

The earhest description is that of Angiolello (1473-81), but the 
fullest account is probably that of Bobovi (1665).^ In view of the 
above, therefore, I shall give here only the briefest description of 
the Palace School, paying most attention to the buildings which still 
exist in the Third Court. 

In chapter iv I explained the true origin of the corps of janissaries, 
showing that the distinctive feature of the system was the recruit- 
ment of the corps from a levy of Christian children, who were 
forcibly converted and specially trained for their profession. This 
could not come into being all at once, and the earlier Sultans main- 
tained a kind of bodyguard of bought or captured slaves, which as it 
grew in size was organized and trained, not as a single unit, but as 
several distinct divisions, in each of which the individual exhibited 
that state of bodily condition or mental capabihty that caused his 
inclusion in the particular division to which he was detailed. 

Thus boys of pleasing appearance, bodily perfection, and of good 

' The Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent, 
pp. 71-89, 126-128. 

* Beyond the Sublime Porte, pp. 47-71, and the article on " The Curriculum of the Palace 
School of the Turkish Sultans," in the Macdonald Presentation Volume, pp. 305-324. 

5 British Museum, Harl. MSS., 3409. 



birth and education were at once indicated for training as pages in 
the Sultan's Court, or as spahi-oghlans, or recruits in the highest corps 
of standing cavalry. The rest became ajem-oghlans, members of the 
Outer Service of the Seraglio and janissary recruits. The schools for 
the Royal pages were originally at Adrianople and possibly Brusa, 
but after the capture of Constantinople and the building of the Palace 
on Seraglio Hill Muhammad, the most highly educated man of his 
time, decided to establish a great School of State, which in its cur- 
riculum would combine a thorough intellectual education with a full 
military training and perfect development of the body. No better 
patron or personal example could have been chosen than Muhammad 
himself, who was not only a first-class linguist and student of history 
and philosophy, but excelled in archery and horsemanship, as well as 
being a recognized master in strategy and the management of muni- 
tions and the commissariat. And so was formed this State School of 
Royal pages, with a curriculum that at the time had not its equal in 

Several factors stand out as unique in the history of education 
with regard to the Palace School that deserve special mention. In 
the first place, there was not a single Turk in the whole establish- 
ment. The boys were Austrian, Hungarian, Russian, Greek, Italian, 
Bosnian, Bohemian, and even German and Swiss, as well as Georgian, 
Circassian, Armenian, and Persian. But the point to stress is that 
they were all slaves, and henceforth had no nationality, no family, 
and no future except that offered them by the only lord and master 
they were now to know — the Sultan. Once loyalty to the throne 
had been clearly established it soon became evident how valuable 
this highly trained body of youths was proving itself, not only to fill 
official posts in a continually enlarging empire, but as a support to 
the throne against the janissaries, who were yearly becoming more 
difficult to handle. 

In the second place, not only was the training long and arduous, 
but the interest of the School in its pupils was for life. ' After the 
modern undergraduate has graduated from one of our universities 
he passes on to some profession or business, and practically severs all 
connexion with the Varsity. If his education has stopped after his 
leaving the pubHc school about the only tie he has left is the old 



school tie. If he decides on an Army or a Navy career he will go 
into Sandhurst or Dartmouth, where his general, religious, and 
cultural education has to look after itself. But in the case of the 
Palace School the education was continuous and all-embracing — both 
mental, physical, and religious. It was private school, public school. 
Varsity, and military or naval college combined, and as such is 
probably unique in the history of education. But there was not room 
in the Seraglio for all the pupils. It housed only some 500 to 800 of 
the ig-oghlans, or Inside youths as they were called. The palaces at 
Adrianople and Galata were used as ' outhouses,' so to speak, and each 
contained some 300 or 400 students. These students apparently 
ranked lower than those in the Seraglio, and their schools can be 
regarded as preparatory schools whence the ig-oghlans would pass 
on if they had made sufficient progress. At the same time two of the 
Seraglio halls were also of a preparatory nature — the Great and Little 
Halls — so it would seem rather as if the ' outhouses ' catered for students 
of a secondary standard who might never pass into the SeragHo, but 
merely graduate direct to some minor official position. 

The odas in the Seraglio were four in number during the reign 
of Muhammad, but had increased to six before the end of the 
reign of Ahmed I (1617). Their names and functions were as 
follows : 

1. Has Oda, Royal Chamber {has, or khas, meaning 'proper,' 
*pure,' or 'private,' and so 'Royal'), the highest and most exclusive 
unit, consisting of 39 members only, the Sultan himself making the 
fortieth. From the time of Selim I they were made custodians of the 
Holy Relics in the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle. 

2. Hazine Oda, Chamber of the Treasury. This was under the 
Inside Hazinedar-bashi, a white eunuch, and numbered 60 or 70. 
The duties were the care of the Sultan's treasure, making all pay- 
ments, and keeping accounts. 

3 . Kiler Oda, Chamber of the Pantry. This was under the Kilerji- 
bashi, who controlled the kitchen service of the Seraglio. The 
numbers of this hall seem to have varied, but the average was between 
70 and 100. Their duties consisted in supervising the Sultan's food, 
and they rode with him whenever he left the Palace. 

4. Biiyuk Oda, Great Chamber, originally called Yeni Oda, or New 



Chamber, the change of name being apparently due to the creation 
of the Kiigiik Oda, or Little Chamber, founded by Suleiman. Both 
these chambers were concerned only with the education of the pages, 
the honorary positions in the higher odas mentioned above being 
awarded according to merit. 

5. Kiigiik Oda, Little Chamber. Additional to the above. Both 
halls were under the Ikinji-Kapi-oghlan, or Eunuch of the Second 
Gate. The numbers in the Great Chamber were originally between 
100 and 200, and rose to 400, at which time the Little Chamber 
housed some 250 ig-oghlans. Both chambers had been abolished by 
the end of the eighteenth century. 

6. Seferli Oda, Chamber of Campaign. Founded by either Ahmed 
I' or Murad IV, about a dozen years later. ^ This chamber actually 
came immediately after No. 3, the Kiler Oda, in order of seniority, 
and maintained its strength (from 70 to 150) by drawing from the 
Great and Little Chambers. The pages of the Seferli Oda combined 
the duties of laundering the Sultan's clothes for campaigns and run- 
ning the military band. I have already referred to the connexion of 
this oda with the so-called '* Baths of Selim IL" These last three odas 
appear to have been under the general command of the Sarai Aghasi, 
who was the Assistant Director of the entire School. 

Apart from the auxihary schools already mentioned as existing in 
Adrianople and Galata, a third one was founded by Ibrahim Pasha, 
Grand Vizir of Suleiman, and named after him. Both this and that 
at Adrianople were abohshed by Sultan Ibrahim, while the Galata 
School is still flourishing. The total number of pages in the Seraglio 
was never less than 300 or more than 900. The usual course of study, 
extending for no less than fourteen years, included Turkish, Arabic, 
and Persian in all their branches, while ' side-lines ' such as leather- 
working, the manufacture of bows and arrows and quivers, falconry, 
dog-breeding, music, shampooing, manicuring, haircutting, and 
turban-dressing were selected largely at choice. Rewards in the form 
of pay were always given, so that every encouragement to progress 

' Dr Miller, Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 56. 

* Lybyer, The Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent, 
p. 128, n. I. 



was extended. " These boys," says Menavino, in speaking of the 
Yeni, or Biiyuk, Oda, 

have a daily allowance of two aspers during the first year, three during 
the second year, four during the third year, and thus their allowance 
increases each year. They receive scarlet garments twice a year, and 
some robes of white cloth for the summer.^ 

Discipline was severe, but the use of the bastinado was allowed only 
once a day. The pages were watched day and night by the white 
eunuchs, and every precaution was taken to prevent unnatural 
relationships. That several of the Sultans preferred boys, or took 
them in addition, to women is well known, and the following entry 
from the archives of the Bank of St George at Genoa leaves little 
doubt on the subject : 

They [the white eunuchs] look for all the world hke mummified 
old women, and are, for the most part, very thin and shrivelled. Their 
duty is to attend upon the Grand Signor when he goes out in State, 
and also to keep order among the white pages, mostly Christian lads, 
stolen from their parents, to the number of about 300 to 400 each year. 
Some of these boys are very good-looking and wear magnificent 
dresses. Their cheeks are plump, and their painted eyebrows meet. 
Very strange things are told of them, but these things are common 
hereabouts, and nobody thinks much about them. 

Rycaut devotes a short chapter to the subject, and says that the 
pages invented a language of signs among themselves which they used 
to express their passions, but that in the event of discovery they were 
nearly beaten to death and expelled from the Seragho. It will be 
remembered that the harem did not begin to move into the SeragHo 
imtil about 1542, so until that date all the buildings in the Third 
Court were devoted to the Sultan and the Palace School, which fact 
may account for the position of the harem in its crowded position 
away from the main courts. 

Each of the six chambers of the Palace School had its owti hall, 
dormitory, and classroom, and the number of buildings was further 
increased by a conservatory of music, two mosques, a common room 
for the staff and chief pages, offices of administration, the Baths 
of Selim II, and the Library of Ahmed III. The majority of these 

' Trattato de costumi, p. 91. 
Q 241 


buildings disappeared after the fires of 1655 and 1856, but a glance at 
the plan will show exactly what remains to-day. 

Apart from the Hbrary already discussed and the Pavilion of the 
Holy Mantle, to which I shall refer later, the oldest hall still standing 
is the Seferli Kogu§u (No. 103 in the plan), the Hall of Campaign 
{kogu§u being the modern word for 'hall,' oda meaning rather 
* chamber ' or ' school '). This room, with the one behind it, was part 
of the baths, and to-day houses the famous collection of Chinese 
porcelain {(^ini Hazinesi). The next room (No. 104) was also part of 
the baths, and is now devoted to the silver and glass collection 
{Gumu§ ve Billur Salonu). The other five rooms in this corner of the 
court constituted the Royal Treasury, for a very detailed account of 
which I must refer readers to the gem expert Tavemier.^ To-day they 
have been turned into the Seraglio Museum, and contain objetsd'art of 
every conceivable kind, from the Persian and other thrones of gold 
covered with pearls and rubies to teapots, coifee sets, clocks, desk 
furniture, daggers, pipes, cigarette-holders, toilet sets, chessmen, 
ink-horns, specimens of Oriental calligraphy, needlework, ivory 
carvings, tortoiseshell inlay, and a host of other articles too many to 
mention. Although this is not the place to give any detailed account 
of the different collections, a word or two about the famous ceramic 
collection may be allowed. 

Many contradictory statements have been made concerning it, 
and it is only in recent years that we have been in a position to realize 
the true state of affairs. This is due to the pubhcation in 1930 of 
Meisterwerke der turkischen Museen zu Konstantinopel,^ by Professor 
Zimmermann, who personally supervised the arrangement of the 
collection. A commission was appointed for this purpose after the 
Balkan War in 1912, but owing to the World War the installation 
was not completed until 1925. The next description was a brief one 
included in the official guide-book of the SeragUo.^ Finally, in 1934 
two articles dealing with the collection appeared in the Transactions 
of the Oriental Ceramic Society, the first by R. L. Hobson and the second 
by Sir Percival David. These are most interesting, and it is from them 
that the few following remarks are chiefly taken. 

* New Relation, pp. 45-51. » Two vols., Berlin and Leipzig. 

» Topkapi Sarayi Miizesi Rehberi, pp. 68 et seq. 



The Oriental ceramics in the Seragho form the third largest collec- 
tion in the world. First, and entirely unrivalled, was that in the For- 
bidden City in Pekin, and secondly comes the Johanneum in Dresden. 
Therefore any serious student must visit Istanbul to complete his 
education, as he will discover many unique and wonderful specimens. 

According to Sir Percival David, the earhest record of Chinese 
ware in Istanbul occurs in an inventory of the Palace made in 1504, 
during the reign of Bayezid II. It Hsts twenty-one specimens, nearly 
all plates. Another inventory was made under Sehm I in 15 14, and 
listed sixty-two specimens said to have been brought from the 
Heshtebesht Palace, in Tabriz. It was not, however, until the acces- 
sion of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66) that the collection really 
began to assume large dimensions. This was due to the personal 
interest of the Sultan in Chinese porcelain and the great additions 
made by conquest and received as gifts from foreign emissaries seek- 
ing his favour. No further mention of the porcelain appears to have 
been made until 1680, when there is reference to a larger collection 
of Chinese ware as being stored partly in the Hazine (Treasury) and 
partly in the mutfak't (kitchen). 

In the reign of Abd ul-Mejid (1839-61) the collection was stored 
in the cellars of the Treasury, and some of it was removed to Yildiz 
by Abd ul-Hamid II (i 876-1909). On his deposition, however, 
everything was returned to the Seraglio. To-day the collection 
consists of some 10,000 pieces, out of which 1300 are celadons, 
2600 Ming wares other than celadon, and the rest Chinese and Japanese 
porcelains of post-Ming date. The conquests of Persia, Syria, and 
Egypt naturally added largely to the collection, and the numerous 
specimens of blue and white bear witness to this. Of interest is the 
large number of green celadon plates which were in daily use in the 
Seraglio. The colour was specially chosen as, according to a Near 
Eastern superstition, it disclosed the presence of poison in the food. 

Although by far the greater portion of the collection is Ming 
(1368-1643), there are many fme specimens of both Yuan (1280-1368) 
and Sung (960-1279) dynasties. 

Continuing our inspection of the buildings of the Palace School, 
we come to two very large structures, which together take up nearly 



the entire far, or north-easteni, side of the court. The first of these 
is the Kiler Kogu§u, or Hall of the Pantry, now used as the office of 
the directorate of the Seraglio. I have been in it only twice, but the 
Director has himself kindly drawn in the divisions of the building 
in my plan. Restorations have entirely altered the original interior 
decoration, which must have been of a simpler nature altogether. 
"Here were stored," says Dr MiUer, quoting from Menavino, 
Badoaro, and Bobovi, 

a full assortment of drugs, above aU of potent antidotes for poisons ; 
the rare and costly spices, perfumes, and aromatics brought from 
Egypt, Arabia, and the Indies; the huge candles brought from 
Wallachia for Ughting the Selamlik, Harem, and palace mosques; 
vast quantities of jams, marmalades, and other sweetmeats ; a supply of 
drinkiug water from the two Chamhjas and from the spring of St. 
Simon in the Old Palace ; the delectable syrups manufactured to order 
in ' Grand Cairo' which were the foundation of many of the royal 
drinks ; and the great pieces of ambergris sent by the pasha of the 
Yemen which was one of the ingredients of a favourite variety of 

The next building, separated from the first by a passage connecting 
the Third and Fourth Courts, is the Hazine (also written Khazine) 
Kogti§u, or Hall of the Treasury. As previously mentioned, this was 
the hall of the highest oda after the Has Oda. To-day it is used as 
a sorting-room and museum store, and naturally is not open to the 
general public. 

The northern corner of the court is taken up with the Emanat 
Hazinesi (Treasury deposit), used formerly by the Kiligdar (or 
Silihdar), the Sword-bearer, and later as the Treasury of the Pavilion 
of the Holy Mantle, which itself is the large square building divided 
into four chambers in the extreme comer. I shall return to it soon. 
Next to this, and extending as far as the New Library (No. 98), are 
the Hasodalilar Kogu§u (Hall of the Royal Chamber) and connecting 
rooms. The original building was situated near the Revan Kiosk, 
the present one being rebuilt in the middle of the nineteenth century 
by Abd ul-Mejid. The main hall is a large rectangular room sup- 
ported by six pillars, having a connecting passage to the Pavihon of 
the Holy Mantle. There are several adjacent rooms, which included 
» Beyond the Sublime Porte, p. 213. 


a small suite for the chief officer of the oda and a hospital used only 
by members of the Royal Chamber, while the other pages were 
accommodated in the larger one in the First Court. 

This completes the buildings of the Palace School, but we have yet 
to consider the Pavihon of the Holy Mantle. 

Although the treasuring and veneration of relics, being a form of 
idolatry, is hardly consistent with the spirit of Islam, the temptation 
to cherish and reverence tangible memorials of the Prophet has not 
been entirely resisted. Such relics, however, are very few in number 
(as compared, for instance, with those of the Buddha), and are to be 
found, not in Arabia, but in other countries which have adopted 
Muhammadanism, either entirely or in part. Thus in India Bijapur, 
in the Deccan, venerates two hairs from the Prophet's beard, which 
are kept in a box that is never opened. Then at Rohri, in Sind, is a 
single hair kept in a jewelled case of solid gold in a shrine erected 
specially for the purpose in 1745. This hair is exhibited once a year, 
and by a clever trick mechanism is made to rise and fall by itself. 
Still more hairs, this time three in number, are said to be preserved 
in the famous " Mosque of the Barber," which lies a little north-west 
of Kairwan (Qairowan, or Kairouan), the most interesting town in 
Tunisia. It is dedicated to Abu Zemaa el Beloui, who was not a 
barber at all, but merely one of the Prophet's followers, and the 
correct name of the mosque is "Mosque of Sidi the Companion." 
The three hairs are buried with him, one in each eyehd and the third 
under his tongue. As he always carried them with him when ahve 
he has by some curious mistake been described as the Prophet's 
barber. As we shall see later, the rest of Muhammad's beard is in 
the Seragho. 

Reputed footprints of the Prophet, like those of the Buddha, exist 
in many parts of India, and appear to vary considerably in size and 
shape. But apart from these comparatively unimportant relics there 
existed in Cairo the regalia of the CaUphs,^ consisting of the Prophet's 
standard and mantle, and, according to some accounts, his sword as 

' I.e., the titular Caliphs of 'Abbasid descent who were allowed to hold a shadowy 
Court at Cairo under the Circassian Mameluke rulers. The tide ' Caliph' (more correctly 
khahf, in Arabic khUUfa, and never khalif, meaning ' lieutenant,' and so ' representative ') was 
first borne by the four successors of Muhammad. The title then descended to the thirteen 
Umayyad Cahphs of Damascus, then to the thirty-seven 'Abbasid CaHphs of Baghdad, 



well. Now when in 15 16-17 Selim I had completely subdued Syria 
and Egypt, finishing up his victories by a bloody massacre of 50,000 
of the inhabitants of Cairo, he not only obtained the title of Caliph, 
but possessed himself of these sacred rehcs. His appalling cruelties 
as a conqueror were only equalled by his rehgious humihty and con- 
trition as a worshipper, and all his time was spent in the mosques and 
other religious institutions in Egypt. The Prophet's standard, Sancak 
§erif, was dispatched to Damascus in order that it might be taken on 
the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, ^ but the other relics (exactly what 
they were is uncertain) were taken to Constantinople, where they 
have remained to this day. 

They were taken at once to the Seraglio, and a special building was 
made to receive them which became known as Hirkai ^erif Odasi, 
the Pavihon (or Chamber) of the Holy Mantle, since, until the sacred 
standard was added seventy-seven years later, the Hirka was the most 
important of the relics. 

As mentioned above, there has always been considerable doubt as 
to what rehcs there actually were. All accounts seem to agree on the 
mantle and the standard. It is with regard to the lesser articles that 
differences occur, and it seems uncertain as to whom they belonged 
— whether to the Prophet himself or to one or other of the "four 
companions," Abu Bekr, Omar, Osman, and Ah. The best seven- 
teenth-century account, and, in fact, the only reliable one, is that by 
Tavernier, who got his information from two men who had served 
many years in the Treasury. One of them was actually Head 
Treasurer, and in this capacity was present at the ceremonies con- 
nected with the relics. Tavernier describes the mantle, the standard, 
the seal, and two swords. Of modern accounts I think that by White 
is the best. His list includes the mantle, the standard, the beard, tooth, 
and footprint, the last of which he saw personally. I shall now take 
them one by one and give further details about them. 

I. The Hirka §erif, or Holy Mantle. It is believed to have been pre- 
sented by the Prophet to a pagan Arab named Ka'b ibn Zuhayr, one 

whose dynasty fell before the Mongols under Hulaku (brother of Marco Polo's 
Kublai Khan) in 1258. The titular Caliphs of Egypt continued to support a hollow 
sovereignty in Cairo, until in 15 17 Selim I compelled the last of them, Mutawakkil, to 
abdicate in his favour, and obtained the title for himself and his successors. 
' It reached Constantinople at the end of 1595 (see later, p. 248). 



of six men whom Muhammad wished to convert. He defied them to 
write anything more beautiful than the Koran. Five of them acknow- 
ledged their inability to do such a thing and became converts. But 
Zuhayr persisted in criticizing the holy book, and fled to the desert, 
hiding in a cave. Later he repented and wrote a poem which proved 
such a masterpiece that the Prophet took from his own shoulders the 
mantle he was wearing, one that had been woven in the harem, and 
put it upon the poet's shoulders. The poet, being converted, became 
one of the Prophet's most devoted adherents, and his poem has been 
handed down to posterity under the title Bdnat Sudd. The mantle 
was sold by the poet's children to Mu'awiweh I, founder of the 
Ummayid dynasty, and, passing to Baghdad with the 'Abbasids and 
then to Cairo, fmally fell into the hands of Selim I, and so came to 

It has been described as a green, black, white, and striped garment, 
while Dr Miller was assured by several Palace attendants that it is in 
reality cream-coloured. 

Tavernier says it is a garment of a white camlet made of goat*s 
hair, with large sleeves. His description of the ceremony connected 
with it is as follows : 

The Grand Seignor having taken it out of the Coffer, kisses it with 
much respect, and puts it into the hands of the Capi-Aga, who is come 
into the Room by his Order, after they had taken the Impressions of 
the Seal. The Officer sends to the Overseer of the Treasury, for a large 
golden Cauldron, which is brought in thither by some of the Senior- 
Pages. It is so capacious, according to the description which they gave 
me of it, as to contain the sixth part of a Tun, and the out-side of it is 
gamish'd, in some places, with Emeralds, and Turquezes. This Vessel 
is fill'd with water within six fingers breadth of the brink, and the 
Capi-Aga, having put Mahomet* s Garment into it, and left it to soak a 
little while, takes it out again, and wrings it hard, to get out the water 
it has imbib'd, which falls into the Cauldron, taking great care that 
there falls not any of it to the ground. That done, with the said water 
he fills a great number of Venice-ChrystSLl Bottles, containing about 
half a pint, and when he has stopp'd them, he Seals them with the 
Grand Seignor's Seal. They afterwards set the Garment a drying, till 
the twentieth day of the Ratnazan, and then his Highness comes to see 
them put [it] up again in the Coffer.' 

' New Relation, p. 74. 


The day after the ceremony the bottles of water were sent to the 
Sultanas and important personages of Constantinople, together with 
a piece of paper wrapped up and bearing the imprint of the Prophet's 
seal (to be described later). They soaked the paper in the water, and 
then drank the lot. Bobovi (as quoted by Dr Miller) adds that the water 
was dew gathered by the pages of the Commissariat in the month 
of April, and was regarded as a remedy against fever and other ills, 
and was put into the mouth of the dead as a talisman against the tor- 
ments of the sepulchre. As time went on the ceremony became very 
simple, and is considered to have been more in accordance with the 
original practice of the sixteenth century.' 

2. The Sancak §erif, or Sacred Standard. According to some Arabian 
historians this standard originally served as a curtain for the tent 
entrance of Ayesha, the Prophet's favourite wife. The usually 
accepted tradition is that it was the turban-winder of one of Mu- 
hammad's converted enemies, a man named Buraydat. 

During the FHght he was sent against Muhammad at the head of a 
body of horse by the chiefs of Mecca. But instead of attacking he 
threw himself on his knees, unwound his turban, and, fixing it to his 
lance-point, dedicated it and himself to the Prophet's service and 
glory. Like the mantle, it ultimately came into Sehm's hands, and, 
as mentioned above, was sent to Damascus, where it was deposited 
in the great mosque and carried every year to Mecca at the head of 
the pilgrims. Reahzing its political possibihties, Murad III had it sent 
to Hungary as an incentive to his army. At the end of the campaign 
it was conveyed to Constantinople by Muhammad III, who had just 
(1595) ascended the throne. Henceforth the standard became the 
symbol of Ottoman domination, and was exhibited only when either 
the Sultan or the Grand Vizir joined the field army in person, or 
in the case of national emergencies (as in 1826) or on declaration 
of war, the last occasion being in 1915 when a holy war was pro- 
claimed aojainst the Alhes. 

It would appear that the standard is detached from the pole and 
enclosed in a rosewood coffer, inlaid with tortoiseshell, mother-of- 
pearl, and precious stones. It is sewed within another standard, said 
to be that of Omar, and this again is enclosed in forty different cover- 
' See, further, "White, Three Years in Constantinople, vol. i, pp. 214, 215. 



ings of rich stuffs, the innermost being of green silk embroidered with 
golden inscriptions. 

Whether there is any significance in the number of wrappings, 
corresponding with the number of members of the Has Oda, who 
were the custodians of the relics, I cannot say. White adds that the 
mantle had also forty wrappers, but the account may be incorrect 
on this point. The keys of the coffer were kept by the Kislar Agha 
in virtue of his ofGce as inspector and administrator of the holy cities 
(see p. 129). White actually saw the pole or staff resting against the 
angle of the wall. It was surmounted by a hoUow globe of silver 
gilt enclosing a copy of the Koran said to have been transcribed 
by Omar. Another copy, transcribed by Osman, is folded in the 
second standard. D'Ohsson^ describes the receptacle as being in the 
shape of an apple and containing a Koran by Osman and the key of 
the Ka'aba presented to Selim by the Sherif of Mecca. Tavernier 
says the standard was kept in a cupboard in the Sultan's bedroom 
adjoining the Hirkai ^erifOdasi. 

3 . The Miihiir §erif, or Sacred Seal. The only account of the seal 
and the ceremonies connected with it appears to be that by Tavernier : 

Towards the feet of the said Bed [the divan in the * Winter chamber,' 
or chief room of the rehcs], there is a kind of Neech [niche] made with- 
in the very Wall, in which there is a Httle Ebony Box, about half a 
foot square, and in that is lock'd up Mahomet's Seal. It is enchac'd in 
a Crystal, with a Bordure of Ivory, and taking all together, it may be 
four inches in length, and three in breadth. I have seen the Impression 
of it upon a piece of Paper ; but he who shew'd it me, would not 
suffer me to touch it, only upon this score, that he look'd on it as a 
great Relick. Once in three months this Chamber is made clean, and 
the Carpets are chang'd, the Pages of the Treasury being employ'd in 
that Office. And then it is, that the Chasnadar-hachi opens the Box, 
and having in his hands an embroider'd Hand-kerchief, he takes out 
the Seal, with great respect and reverence, whilst the Senior of the 
Pages holds a golden Cup, gamish'd with Diamonds and blue Saphirs, 
on the top of which there is a kind of Perfuming-Pot, out of which 
there comes an exhalation of all sorts of sweet scents, whereby the 
whole Room is in a manner embalm'd. The Page holds that cup in 
both his hands joy 'nd together, and lifting it up higher than his Head, 
all those that are present immediately prostrate themselves to the 

' Tableau general, vol. i, p. 265. 


ground, as aii acknowledgement of their veneration. As soon as they 
are up again, the Page brings down the Cup, lower than his chin, and 
the principal Officer of the Treasury, holding the Seal over the smoke, 
all those who are in the Room, come and kiss the Chrystal which covers 
one of the most precious Rehcks, that they have of their Prophet.* 

Tavernier was unable to obtain a description of the seal itself, as 
to its material and engravings. On the 14th day of Ramadan fifty 
pieces of paper were stamped with the seal "with a certain gummy 
Ink, which is prepar'd in a Pourcelain Dish, whereinto he [the Sultan's 
Sword-bearer] thrusts his fmger, and rubs the Seal with it, and keeps 
ail those Printed Papers" to send them to important personages to- 
gether with the mantle water, as explained above. 

4. The Sakal, or Beard. This is said to have been shaved from the 
Prophet's chin after death by his favourite barber, Salman, in the 
presence of Abu Bekr, Ali, and several disciples who performed 
the ceremonial fumigations. It is said to be about three inches long, 
of a lightish brown colour, without grey hairs. It is preserved in a 
glass reliquarium, hermetically sealed, and richly ornamented. The 
location of various hairs from the Prophet's beard has already been 

5. One of the Prophet's Teeth. This tooth was one of the four which 
were knocked out of his mouth by a blow of a battle-axe during the 
battle of Bedr, where, 'tis said, the Archangel Gabriel fought on the 
Prophet's side at the head of 3000 angels. Two of the teeth have been 
lost, and the fourth is said to be in the tiirbeh of Muhammad II. 

6. The Footprint of the Prophet. This was actually seen by White. 
It is the impression of a foot upon a square fragment of calcareous 
stone. It is believed to be that of the Prophet, indented by him at 
the moment he was assisting the masons to raise a heavy stone for the 
building of the Ka'aba. According to another tradition it was made 
when Muhammad placed his left foot in the stirrup to mount his 
famous horse Borak. 

As mentioned above, Tavernier also describes two swords. One 
is "a very homely kind of Cuttelas" in a scabbard covered with green 
cloth, and is said to have belonged to Omar. The other is a short 

' New Relation, pp. 73-74. 


sword venerated because *'it some time was the Sword of a certain 
person named Ebou-Nislum, with which he cut to pieces, those, 
who had spread a Heresie in the Law o{ Mahomet.** 

Tavernier gives an account of several of the rooms which formed 
part of the suite of the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, but owing to 
demoHtions and rebuildings it tells us but little. The main entrance is 
under the colonnade in the Third Court next to the Mounting Plat- 
form through a highly ornate gate known as the ^adirvan Kapisi, or 
Gate of the Fountain. Access is immediately obtained to the southern- 
most of the four square domed rooms, which appears to be a kind 
of reception-room with a fountain in the centre. Of the remaining 
three I have personally seen only the most northerly, and then just a 
brief glance through the grilled windows that look out into the 
L-shaped pillared hall. As far as I could judge the entire walls were 
covered with exquisite tiling, and heavy hangings hid from view 
what may have been show-cases containing some of the lesser relics. 
Lanterns hung from the ceiling and rich carpets covered the floors. 
There was little light, and as I was really being conducted to the 
Hall of Circumcision my furtive glances were but momentary. I 
made my exit the way I had come — namely, by a small door at the 
top of a short flight of steps in the corner of the Fourth Court behind 
the Emanat Hazinesi (No. 109 in the plan). Both this latter building, 
the Has Odasi, and the kiosks leading ofl" the pillared hall were all 
connected ceremonially and architecturally, combining together as 
the PaviHon of the Holy Mantle. Exactly what part each played at 
different times is impossible to say. I shall have occasion to add a 
few words about the Revan Kiosk in the next chapter, as this really 
forms part of the Fourth Court. 




Although to-day the remaining part of the SeragHo is known as 
the Dordiincii Avlu, or Fourth Court, the term is really used for con- 
venience, and even so is apphed more to that part near the kiosk 
of Abd ul-Mejid than to the whole area. 

Moreover, the buildings connected with the Pavihon of the Holy 
Mantle and the marble terrace leading to the lovely Baghdad Kiosk 
in no way constitute part of another court, while the kiosk of Abd 
ul-Mejid, being a late Louis-Philippe erection, hardly comes into the 
history of the SeragUo at all. 

With its unrivalled views of the Marmora, the Bosphorus, and the 
Princes' Islands, this part of the Seraglio was proclaimed by nature 
to be a garden, and as such successive Sultans have vied with one 
another to make it more lovely. From the very foundation of the 
Palace kiosks were built on the highest points amid the trees and 
flowers. Here every passing breeze would be caught, and, freed 
from the cares of State, or even from domestic troubles, the Sultans 
could enjoy perfect peace and privacy. That it was a private garden 
can at once be reahzed by a glance at the plan. It was entirely cut off 
from the other SeragHo buildings. Only the back windows of the 
Kiler Kogu§u and the Treasury looked on to it, and on those occasions 
when members of the harem were allowed to walk in the garden, or 
in the event of a garden ^^e, every window was securely barred and 
all doors were closed. Connexion with the harem was cut off by the 
Pavihon of the Holy Mantle, and the pages of the Palace School were 
safely kept in the Third Court. As we have already seen in an early 
chapter, it was through a door leading into this garden that surrep- 
titious visitors were introduced, and some of the buildings mentioned 
as existing in the most northerly part of the gardens were obviously 
summer kiosks which fell into ruins as time went on, or else were 
pulled down to make room for the Baghdad Kiosk in 1639, or for 
the adjoining marble terrace, known as the Sultan Ibrahim Kameriyesi. 



The vast space of undergrowth hiding foundations of long- 
forgotten buildings which stretches from the Hall of Circumcision 
and the Baghdad Kiosk to the outer wall of the Seraglio has already 
been mentioned (p. 200). 

Before speaking of the tuhp gardens of Ahmed III which became 
so famous in the first quarter of the eighteenth century I shall deal 
briefly with such buildings as still exist in this so-called Fourth 
Court. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Revan Kiosk was 
really connected with the Pavihon of the Holy Mantle. It occupies 
the highest point of the whole Seragho, and from the time of Muham- 
mad II this hill undoubtedly supported some building or other which 
formed a summer retreat close to the seldmlik. Here the sweet scents 
of the garden and one of the world's most lovely views could be 
continually enjoyed. 

In the spring of 1635 Murad IV set out on his Anatolian campaign, 
expelling the Persian heretics from those cities in the Ottoman 
Empire they still occupied. Revan (Persian Riwan, Enghsh Erivan or 
Irwan), the capital of the Government of the same name, in Trans- 
caucasia, to the north of Ararat, was conquered, and on the march 
back all provincial governors convicted of the shghtest neglect were 
severely punished. At Revan the Sultan is said to have seen a kiosk 
which pleased him exceedingly, and on his return to the capital 
orders were given to have it copied in the Royal garden. The site 
on the most prominent part of the Seragho was selected. Although 
named after the scene of Murad's victory, Revan, it also became known 
as the Sarik Odasi, or Room of the Turban. It is cruciform in shape, 
and could be described as a smaller edition of the Baghdad Kiosk. 
But owing to the fact that it is no longer ' free,' but has been joined 
to the back of the Emanat Hazinesi by a wall pierced with large 
windows, a wrong impression of its original form is obtained. It 
consists of a domed chamber lighted by a double row of rather 
narrow muUioned windows. A roof with widely overhanging 
eaves affords shade to the centre chamber as well as to the balconies 
between the arms of the kiosk. A small bay, or window divan, 
has been built into what was once the balcony overlooking the 
tuHp garden. The upper part of the exterior is tiled, while the 
inside closely resembles that of the Baghdad Kiosk, being covered 



with second-period tilings and fine examples of the calligrapher's 

In 1638 Murad IV made his final and greatest expedition against 
the Persians, which culminated in the capture of Baghdad. Suleiman 
the Magnificent had taken the town in 1534, and now Murad recap- 
tured it, thus upholding the curious tradition in the East that the 
great city of Baghdad, the ancient city of the Caliphate, can only be 
taken by a sovereign in person. 

Murad always had an eye for architectural beauty, and this time 
he saw a building which seemed to him the most perfect of its kind 
in the world. After his triumphal return to Constantinople orders 
were given to build a kiosk near the other one on the model of that 
in Baghdad. 

The plan is cruciform, like the Revan Kiosk, but the surrounding 
arcade, with its broad overhanging roof, forms an outer cross which 
gives the effect of an octagon by the addition of smaU balconies or 
bay-windows between some of the arms. Other additions have also 
tended to alter the original plan. For instance, when facing the kiosk 
from the marble terrace we see that the arcade to the right, or garden 
side, is filled in, the tiling and traceried windows being continued in 
exact rephca of the main kiosk, thus forming a kind of external 
anteroom. It was used at one time as a library. To the left the arcade 
is open, but on walking round in this direction we soon reach a point 
when it becomes closed with glass panelling, and extends thus until 
it meets the anteroom on the south side. A glance at the plan will 
supplement this description. 

Taken together, the Revan and the Baghdad Kiosks are examples 
of the supreme works of the Turkish architectural style based on 
Persian originals of the seventeenth century. The tilework has 
reached its zenith, the outside of the latter is covered with tiles from 
the base to the eaves, while, as mentioned above, that of the former 
is tiled half-way up, but the general external effect is one of harmony 
and symmetry, to which a grace and lightness is imparted by the 
slender columns with capitals displaying the lotus motif. In the Bagh- 
dad Kiosk the voussoirs to the arches are in coloured marble with 
serrated edges, and the spandrels between the arches are decorated 
with circular medallions inlaid flush with the white marble surface. 



A gilded dome, with a tall lantern above, is carried by arches which 
span the openings to the four arms of the cross. A gilt ornate ball 
(at one time a lamp) hangs on a long chain from the centre of the 
dome. The interior tiling is of the highest order, the shades of 
colour especially noticeable being green and both dark and light 
blue on a white ground. The designs are mainly floral. The pome- 
granate flowers and large-leafed foUage in two-handled vases in 
panels on each side of the fireplace are magnificent. The bird de- 
signs are also deserving of special mention, the red beaks affording 
a striking note of bright contrast against the lighter background. 

The handsome bronze fireplace is of the usual canopied style, and 
is built low to give warmth to people sitting on sofas and divans. 
Bassano tells us that the logs were placed upright, and not across as is 
usual with us, the idea being to create an upward draught and avoid 
smoking. A tall minaret-shaped chimney pierces the roof at one 
side of the dome. A broad Cufic cornice runs right round the room 
into the recesses, which are lined with magnificently embroidered 
divans. Behind and at the sides of these divans are cupboards, the 
doors of which are inlaid with ivory and mother-of-pearl. Similarly 
inlaid niches display Chinese porcelain, and were probably used for 
pipes, perfumes, and similar articles. Traceried windows occupy the 
upper part of the kiosk, in pairs within the recesses and singly in 
the intervening wall spaces. A table or brazier is usually placed in 
the centre of the room, but this is a purely modem arrangement 
for decorative purposes. The kiosk has had many uses during the 
centuries, being in turn a smoking-lounge, a library, a reception- 
room, and a prison. 

Between the Baghdad Kliosk and the Hall of Circumcision stretches 
the wide marble terrace, with the havuz, or pool, on the left stretching 
dov^Ti to the Revan KLiosk. To the right, as one faces the Hall of 
Circumcision, is a finely wrought canopy in gilded bronze raised on 
four slender columns. According to an inscription, it bears the name 
of Iftariye, from Iftar, the meal taken after sunset during a fast, 
because it was here that Ibrahim took his evening meal during 
Ramadan. It was here also that this same Sultan gave alms as part of 
the celebrations of his sons* circumcision, and the official guide-book 
to the Seraglio has two most interesting pictures (facing p. 128), the 



first of which shows the Sultan standing in front of the Iftariye, 
while several men are on their knees picking up the bah§i§ which has 
been thrown down near the havuz. In the second picture the havuz 
and the grovelling men still appear, but behind the line of nine 
officials we see the Royal Princes resting on divans, apparently after 
the operation, while the Sultan holds some high official, probably 
the Chief Physician, in conversation. The havuz itself is all that now 
remains of the * water-garden ' which early writers have described 
as existing in this part of the Seraglio. It is open on the terrace sides, 
and bounded on the other two sides by the windows of the HaU 
of Pillars and the Revan Kiosk. There is a charming pyramidical 
marble fountain in the middle, and the reflection of the gleaming 
white marble balustrade and surrounding columns in the waters of 
the pool beneath lends a coolness and serenity to the whole of these 
upper terrace buildings that is both restful and dignified. Passing 
down from the terrace by a short flight of marble steps at the side 
of the Revan Kiosk, one reaches the gardens. They extended, on 
various levels, throughout the whole of the Fourth Court, being 
broken to the north-east by the kiosk of Mustafa Pasha (No. ii8) 
and the truncated tower chamber known as the Hekimha§i Odasi, or 
Chamber of the Chief Physician (No. 119). As far as I can ascer- 
tain, the tulip gardens lay between the Revan Kiosk and the 
Hekimba§i Odasi — i.e., Nos. 113 and 119 in the plan — while an 
orangery was planted on the lower level behind the kiosk of Mustafa 
Pasha, extending northward as far as the rectangular sunken marble 
pool which Hes just under the Baghdad Kiosk. 

Another, and smaller, pool separates the kiosk of Mustafa Pasha 
and the Hekimba§i Odasi on the lower level. 

The former of these buildings consists of two chambers of uneven 
sizes with a long flight of steps between them leading to the orangery. 
They rest on slender marble columns which can only be seen from 
the lower gardens. The origin of the building and the name of the 
architect appear to be unknown, and it was only later restorations 
that attached to it the name of the Vizir Mustafa Pasha. The earliest 
date known in connexion with it is 1704, when it was first restored 
by Ahmed III, as is recorded on an inscription. The name Sofa 
Kd§kii, or Kiosk of the Sofa, is also apphed to this building, but the 



reason for this alternative name remains unexplained. Certainly the 
chief attraction of the kiosk is the huge sofa window looking out 
on gardens beneath, and the word sofa is used in this sense as well as 
to denote an anteroom. The general decoration of the kiosk is 
Louis XV, and need not detain us further. It is said that the seal of 
the Grand Vizir was kept here. 

The neighbouring Hekimba§i Odasi is a two-storied building look- 
ing more like a prison, with its row of heavily barred windows right 
at the very top, immediately underneath a triple cornice, than the 
Chamber of the Chief Physician. As previously mentioned, it is 
said to be the lower part of an early tower, and Palace tradition dates 
it back to the time of Muhammad II. 

A collection of early medical instruments can still be seen in the 
cupboards within. 

In striking contrast are the Uguncii Kapi, or Third Gate, and the 
Abd ul-Mejid Kiosk [Mecidiye Kd§ku), in the south-eastern comer 
of the court. They both seem quite out of place here, and would 
be much more at home in Versailles. The kiosk, or New Pavihon 
as it is sometimes called, was built by a French architect in the middle 
of the nineteenth century on the site of two earlier kiosks — the (^adity 
or Tent, and the Ugilncu Yeri, or Kiosk of the Third Estate. It houses 
a strange collection of French furniture of every period, that of the 
Second Empire predominating.^ 

Numerous gilt clocks, elaborate silver-gilt centrepieces, candelabra, 
inlaid caskets, reproductions of famous triumphal columns, etc., 
stand on Louis XV marble mantelpieces, ormolu commodes, or 
else occupy positions in the centre of the rooms. There is also a 
collection of paintings of the Sultans, which is not on view to the 
public as yet. It is needless to say that the view from the kiosk is 
unsurpassed. In latter years the kiosk was used as the reception- 
room for important visitors to the Seraglio, and here it was that 
coffee, cigarettes, and rose-leaf jam were served before the inspec- 
tion of the courts began. 

The only other buildings in the court consist of a little kiosk called 
Esvap Odasi, or Chamber of Robes (which apparently was used for 

' For further details see the modem Turkish guide-book, Topkapi Sarayi Muzesi 
Rehberi, p. 150. 

R 257 


donning ceremonial robes for receptions held in the Mecidiye Kd§ku), 
and the Sofa Camii, or mosque for the servants of the Pavilion of the 
Holy Mantle. 

There remains but to speak of the gardens and to give a short 
account of the famous tulip^feas held during the reign of Mahmud I. 
Most of the Sultans were really interested in the Seraglio gardens, 
and each made some addition either by laying out an entirely new 
garden or by the introduction of some hitherto unknowni plants or 
trees. Ibrahim was particularly fond of tulips, while Muhammad IV 
favoured the Ranunculus genus, having roots and seeds sent by his 
Pashas from all parts of Syria and the islands in the Mediterranean. 
But other flowers, such as the rose, the carnation, the hyacinth, and 
the lilac, were also cultivated to a large extent, and not only in this 
garden, but in that of the Summer Palace, near Seraglio Point, as well ; 
and at one time they must have been a marvellous sight to behold. 

To-day no trace of the past glory remains, and a box-hedge and a 
few scattered trees are all that is left. 

It was, however, in the reign of Ahmed III that the tulip reached 
its height and actually began to interfere with State business and to 
prove a drain on the national resources by the reckless extravagance 
of the fetes, which seemed to be regarded as even more important 
than the great national festivals themselves. In the next reign, that 
of Mahmud I, the tulip cult was still continued, but in a lesser degree ; 
and it was during this period that Flachat made his observations. He 
has left us a detailed account of a tulip fete which well deserves in- 
clusion here : 

It takes place in April. Wooden frames [or 'galleries'] are erected 
in the courtyard of the New Serail, on both sides of which rows of 
shelves are arranged for the setting out of the vases containing the 
tulips in the form of an amphitheatre. Alternating with the vases are 
lamps, and from the topmost shelves cages of canaries hang, with glass 
balls fdled with different coloured waters. The reverberation of the 
light affords as pleasing a prospect in the day-time as it does at night. 
The extensive walk in the enclosure formed by the wooden structures 
offers to the sight various well-designed edifices, such as pyramids, 
towers, and floral bowers set up in different places. 

Art creates illusion, harmony makes such lovely places live, and one 
imagines oneself suddenly transported to the palace of one's dreams. 



The Sultan's kiosk, or pavilion, is in the centre. It is there that the 
presents sent by the Court grandees are displayed. They are pointed 
out to his Piighness, the source of origin being explained in each case. 
It is a good opportunity to show one's anxiety to please. Ambition 
and rivalry strive to create something new. At any rate, whatever 
may be lacking in originality and rarity is balanced in richness and 

When all is ready the Grand Seigneur causes kalvet [the state of 
complete privacy, either alone or with the harem] to be announced. 
All the gates of the Serail leading to the garden are closed. The 
Bostanchis stand on guard outside, and the black eunuchs inside. All 
the Sultanas come there from the Karem after the Sultan. The Keslar 
Aga, at the head of the other eunuchs, officiates. The women rush out 
on all sides, hke a swarm of bees settling on the flowers and stopping 
continually at the honey they find. There are numbers of them of 
every kind and sort. The Keslar Aga has assured me several times that 
the gaiety of these occasions seems to bring out any skill they claim to 
possess, or arts which they display in anything they do to amuse. 
Those little games that the poets invented for Cupid and the nymphs 
may give some slight idea. Each tries to distinguish herself; they are 
all a mass of charms ; each has the same object to accomphsh. One 
has never seen elsewhere to what lengths the resources of the intellect 
can go with young women who want to seduce a man they love 
through vanity, and especially by natural inclination. The grace of the 
dance, the melody of the voice, the harmony of the music, the elegance 
of the dresses, the wit of the conversation, the ecstasies, the effeminacy, 
and love — the most voluptuous, I may add, that the cleverest coquetry 
has invented — all unite in this delightful spot under the eyes of the 

The Kiahia Caden finally presents to him the girl that most takes his 
fancy. No pains have been spared to ensure her success. She hastens 
to exhibit every pleasing talent she possesses. The handkerchief that 
he throws to her signifies his wish to be alone with her. 

The curtain which covers the sofa on which he is sitting is made to 
fall. The Keslar Aga remains to pull it aside again at the first signal, 
and the other women, who have scattered here and there, all occupied 
— some with dancing, others with singing, these with playing on their 
instruments, and those with partaking of refreshments — all come to 
the kiosque in a moment to pay their respects to the Sultan and 
congratulate the new favourite. The fete continues some time longer, 
and terminates by the distribution which the Keslar Aga makes of 
jewels, stuffs, and trinkets, following the wishes of his master. The 
presents are proportional to the pleasure received. But Mahamout 



always saw to it that they were of sufficient value for the girls to return 
to the Karem with an air of gratitude and contentment. 

The Sultan's evening is spent in receiving the comphments of the 
chief officers of the Court and all the Grandees of the Empire. Each 
arranges himself in the room according to his rank, and the entire 
Serail is illuminated.^ 

As Flachat got most of his information direct from his friend the 
Kislar Agha we can conclude that the account is reliable, and if so this 
is further evidence of the existence of the custom of ' throwing the 
handkerchief in the selecting of a concubine. 

Passing out of the garden through the Third Gate, the visitor will 
soon find himself opposite the Goths' Column, which stands there 
as if to remind him of the ancient glories of this unsurpassable 

' Observations sur le commerce, vol. ii, pp. 20-24. 


\ ! I 



'AbbasId dynasty of Baghdad, 245 «., 247 

Abd es-Selam, Defterdar, 62 

Abd ul-Aziz, 211 

Abd ul-Hamid I, 63, 153 n., 194 

Abd ul-Hamid II, 19, 20, 21, 72, 135, 243 

Abd ul-Mejid, 81, 131, 233, 243, 244 

Abd ur-Rahman Shirif Efendi, 51-52, 71 

Abdul Medjid PaviHon, terrace of, 22 

Ablution fountains, 112, 119 

Abu Bekr, 246 

Abyssinia, eunuchs from, 139 

Admiral-in-Chief (High Admiral), 107, 

Adrianople, 42, 57, 124, 134, 226, 228, 238, 

239, 240 
i^sculapius and Hygieia, Temple of, Brusa, 

Agalari, the, fish available for, 116 
Agathius, bath described by, 213 
Agha of the Janissaries, the (Chorbaji-bashi), 

Head Soup-distributor, 91, 92, 94, 95 
Aghas — see Eunuchs, white 
Ahmed I, 37, 38-39, 66, 69, 86, 187, 195, 

207, 235, 239 
Ahmed III, 17, 63, 93, 94, 95, I95, 196, 

233, 253, 256, 258 
Ahmed Rasim, on rooms in the selamlik, 

Ajem-oghlans — see Apprentice janissaries 
Aka^alar Kapisi — see Gate of the White 

Akhor Kapi — see Gate of the Stables 
Alai, or Procession, Kiosk, the, 59, 72-74 
Albania, janissaries recruited from, 90 
Alhambra, the, designs in, similar to those 

in the SeragUo, 123, 124, 129 
Ah, 246 
Amasia, 88 
Ambassadors, reception of, loi, 103, 106, 

Ammianus Marcellinus, on castration, 135 
Anastasius, 56 
AnatoHa, 21, 253 
Angiolello, cited, 19, 237 
Antery [entari, entary), a woman's garment, 


Antonina — see Byzantium 
Apollo, Temple of, at Delphi, 55 n. 
Apprentice janissaries {Ajem-oghlans), 33, 

62, 90, 115, 133, 233 
Araba Kapisi — see Gate, Carriage 
Arabian Nights, The (Galland), 13, 21, 75, 

145, 148, 150, 184 
Arabic style of decoration, 23 
Aramon, Gabriel d', 27 
Arcadius, 56, 69, 138, 214 
Archangel Michael, Church of, 69 
Archery ground [Ok-meidan), 39, 69 
Armenia, slaves procured from, 122 
Armenian art, 124 
Armenians, the, experts in braiding, 170 ; 

turban {talpock) worn by, 171 
Arms Museum {Sildh Miizesi), 17, 24, 84, 

98 «., 108, no 
Artemis, Ephesian, eunuch priest of, 136 
Arzodasi — see Throne Room 
A^gi-bashi (Chief Cook), 91, 114 
Assistant Chief Gatekeeper of the Apart- 
ments {Yailak-Bash-Kapi-Oghlan), 132 
Assistant Director of the Pages' School 

{Sarai Aghasi), 240 
Assyria, eunuchs in, 135, 137, 141 
Atargatis, eunuch priest of, 136 
Atatiirk (Mustafa Kemal), 152 
Athanasius, on chastity, 136 
Athenians, the, and relief of Byzantium, 55 
Audience Chamber, or Throne Room — see 

Throne Room 

Bab-el-Selam (Gate of Salutation, Central 

Gate) — see Gate, Central 
Bab-i-Humayun — see SubUme Porte 
Bab-i-Sa'adet — see Gate of FeUcity 
Babylon, use of eunuchs by Cyrus on 

capture of, 137 
Badoaro, on Hall of the Pantry, 244 
Baedeker, plans of the Courts in the 

Seragho used by, 51 
Baghdad, Cahphate passes to, 247 
Baghdad Kiosk, 22, 24, 28, 34, 39, 41, 51, 

123, 195, 200, 201, 252, 253, 254-255 
Bairakdar Pasha, 93, 199 



Ba'iram, and Kurhan Bairam, j6 and «., 94, 

loi, 162 
Bajazet — see Bayezid 
Bakeries, on Seraglio Hill, 15, 66, 83 
Balata, Jewish quarter of Constantinople, 

Balik Hane Kapi (Gate of the Fish-house), 

59, 70 
Bahajilers — see Halberdiers 
Banat Suad, poem by Zuhayr, 247 
Barozzi, N., 35 
Barton, Edward, Ambassador to the Porte, 


Baserguian hachi (First Merchant of the 
Grand Signor), Flachat made, 44 

Bash-Kapi-Oghlan (Chief Gatekeeper of 
the Apartments), 132 

Bash-Mussahib {liaison officer between 
Sultan and Kislar Agha), 132 

Basil I, 68 ; New Church of, 69 

Ba^kadin ve Kadinlar Dairesi (suite of the 
Chief and other Kadins), 159-160 

Baskets {sepet), made in the Seraglio, 77 

Bastinado, the, 83, 241 

Bastinado boards, 127 

Bath, Baths : of Achilles, 214; of Anas- 
tasia, 214; of Arcadius, 69, 214; of 
Bejir Aga, 109, 204; of Blachermas, 
214; Bride's, 223-224; at Brusa, 80, 
225 et seq. ; Byzantine, 212 et seq. ; of 
Carosia, 214; of Constantine, 213, 214; 
in Constantinople, 56, 213 et seq.; of 
Didymum, 214; of Diocletian, 215; 
Great, 208 ; of the Infirmary, 204 ; of 
Murad III, 207 ; of the Princes, 48; pubUc, 
203, 212; Roman, 214, 215; Royal, 153, 
154, 194, 203, 205, 210, 211-212 ; of Rus- 
tem Pasha, 226, 229 ; of SeUm II, 207- 
208,237, 240,241 ; in the Seragho, 48, 65, 
109, no, 112, 124, 155, 203 et seq.; of 
the Sultanas, 203, 205, 207; Sultans' 
{Hiinkdr Hamami), 205 ; Turkish, 212- 
213 ; women's, 48, 212, 220 et seq., 229; 
of Zeuxippus, 213. See also Hamams 

Bathrooms, 211 ; Sultan's, 124, 153 «., 160 

Battery, the, on coast facing Galata, 78 

Baudier, Michel, on the Seragho, 37 

Baukunst Konstantinopels, Die (Gurlitt), 51, 

Bayezid I, 14, 57, 228 

Bayezid II, 28, 59, 115 «., 243 

Bazerkian-bashi (purveyor of cloths, linens, 
muslins, etc.), 130 

Beard of the Prophet (Sakal), 245, 250 
Bearer of the Royal Robes [Chokadar), 96 
Bedr, battle of, 250 
Bedroom [yatakodasi): of the Sultan Valide, 

159 ; of Murad III, 25 ; of the Sultan, 38- 

39 ; of Abd ul-Hamid I, 194 
Bedroom ritual of Sultan and concubine, 

Bektashi dervishes, 91 
Belgrade, Forest of, wood for the Seraglio 

from, 78 
Benedict XIV, Pope, castration of boys 

condemned by, 136 
Berchet, G., 35 
Beshiktash, Palace of, on Lower Bos- 

phorus, 48, 65 
Be§ir Aga, Chief Eunuch, 109, 204 
Beuyiik Kiikiirtlu, sulphur baths, 229 
Beylerbey, Palace of, 211 
Bezestan (or market house), the, 165 
Bijapur, hairs from Prophet's beard in, 245 
Bin Bir Direk (Cistern of looi Columns), 

Black Sea, 115 
Black Sea Canal, 61. See also Bosphorus, 

Black Sea forests, wood for the Seraglio 

from, 116 
Boathouses, 77, 78 
Bobovi, Albert, on the Palace School, 237, 

244, 248 
Bon, Ottaviano, cited, 29, 34 et seq., 

84, 86, 100, 103, 104, 118, 128, 133, 181- 

183, 200, 233 
Boots, female, 164, 171 
Borak, the Prophet's horse, 250 
Bosfor Sultan, First Kadin, 175, 176 
Bosnia, janissaries recruited from, 90 
Bosphorus, the, 19, 24, 40, 48, 57, 62, 93, 

94, 109, 125, 156, 159, 163, 184, 185-186, 

195, 211, 252 
Bostanji (gardeners), 61-62 
Bostanji Kapi — see Gate of the Gardeners 
Bostanji-bashi — see Gardener, Head 
Bowstring, the, 198, 199 
Braziers, in, 183, 202 
Brocquiere, Bertrandon de la, on the jan- 
issaries, 89 
Brusa, 57, 86, 122, 124, 166, 169, 170, 238; 

hot baths of, 80, 225 et seq. ; tiles, 79-80, 

Buffoons, 38, 116, 199 
"Bukhayt, the First Eunuch, Tale of," 148 



Bulgaria, janissaries recruited from, 90 

Buraydat, 248 

Burghley, William Cecil, Lord, 32 

Burko (veil, outdoor), 172 

Burton, Sir Richard, cited, 142, 148, 149, 

Buskins, female, 167 
Butter, from Moldavia, 115 
Biiyuk Akhor (Great Stables), 72, 109 
Buyiik Oda or Yeni Oda — see Great 

Byzantine art, 123, 124 
Byzantine costume, 162 
Byzantine Empire, end of, 56 
Byzantine times, eunuchs in, 134 
Byzantium, 54, 55, 56, 58 
Byzas, 54, 55 

Cad\ leschieri (Kaziaskers) of Greece and 

Natolia, 104, 105, 106 
Cadines, 20. See also Kadins 
^adir (Tent Kiosk), formerly in the Fourth 

Court, 257 
CafFa, supply of butter from, 115 
Caftan — see under Robes, female 
Cage, the — see Princes' Prison 
Caiques, 62, 77 
Cairo, 140, 245, 246, 247 
Cab'co and linen, painted, 43, 77 
Calidarium, the, of the baths, 206 
Caliphs, the, 245 and n. 
Candia, Bon's post at, 37; honey from, 115 
Canea, Turkish fleet sails to, 191 
Cannon Gate {Topkapi), 17, 50, 60, 65, 70, 

Canopy on columns {Iftariye), near Bagh- 
dad Kiosk, 98, 99-100, 255, 256 
Caparisons, in the Seraglio stables, 31, 

Capidgi-Bachi (chamberlains), 107 
Capigiler Chiaiasi (Grand Chamberlain), 

Capigis (guards), 61. See also Gatekeepers 
Capitulations, the, 31 
Caps, female, 167 
Captain of the Halberdiers, 1 1 1 
Caramussali (Turkish merchantmen), 116 
'Caravanserai,' meaning of, 16 
Carbognano, Comidas de, on the kiosks on 

Seraglio Hill, 74, 76, 77 
Carriage Gate (Araba Kapisi), 125, 154 
Carriers of water on horseback [Sakkas), 


Carvers (Cecigners), 114 

Cas-Odales, room of, 46. See also Has Oda 

Casacche [casaca, female cloaks), 163 and n. 

Casacchino (lady's cape), 163 n. 

Cascade fountain, in Sultan's bath, 206; in 

the Arzodasi, 233 
Casnh — see Treasury 
Cassachi Sultan (Queen Sultana), 182 
Castellane, Comte de, 45 
Castrati, 136, 142 

Castration, 121, 135 et seq., 140 et seq. 
Catherine de' Medici, in correspondence 

with the harem, 187 
Cats, eunuchs' love of, 145 
Caucasia, supply of slaves from, 122 
Cazeta (female cloak), 163 n. 
Cecigners (Carvers), 114 
Qedik or tchelik (sUpper-boot), 171 
Celldt Odasi (Room of the Executioner), 99 
Central Gate — see Gate, Central 
Ceremonies, La.v/ o£ {Kanuni Teshrifat), 162 
Cervosa (herb-beer), 164 
^e^meli Sofa (Vestibule of the Fountain), 

159, 193 
Chadir-Mihter-bashi (chief official in charge 

of Tents and Pavilions), 130 
Chalcedon (Kadikeuy), early colony at, 54 
Chalcondyles, on the janissaries, 89 
Chamber, chambers [oda, odas), 91 «., 237. 

See also Hall 
Chamber of the Barbers, 209 
Chamber of Campaign (Sejerli Oda), 121, 

Chamber of the Chief Physician {Hekimba^i 

Odasi), 256, 257 
Chamber of the Divan, 107 
Chamber of the Holy Mantle — see Pavilion 

of the Holy Mantle 
Chamber (Oda) of the Pages, 33 
Chamber of the Pantry [Kiler Oda), 239, 

Chamber of Presentation, or Throne Room 

(Arzodasi) — see Throne Room 
Chamber of Robes Kiosk (Esvap Odasi), 

Chamber of the Treasury [Hazine Oda), 

officer of (Hazinedar-bashi), 120, 239 
Chamberlain, apartments of, 129 
Chamberlains [Capidgi-Bachi), 107 
Chardin, Sir John, and the SeragUo, 29, 

Chasnadar-bachi (or Hazinedar), 249 
Chasnijir-bashi (Chief Taster), 114 



Chasnijirs (Tasters), 114 

* Chastity curls,' no 

Chaush-lmshi (Grand Master of Petitions), 


Chekirge Mosque, Brusa, 80 
Chekirge village, 228, 229 
Chemises, women's, 164-165, 168-169 
Chiai^, the Head Gardener friend of Bon, 

37, 38 
Chiarezza, the Jewess, 187 
Chiaus Pasha (Chief of the Ushers), 104, 

Chiausi, the (Ushers), 104 
Chibouques (ladies' pipes), used in baths, 

Chief Confectioner {Helvaji-bashi), 81, 114 
Chief Cook {A^gi-bashi), 91, 114 
Chief Executioner, 71, 83 
Chief Gatekeeper, 99; of the Apartments, 

Chief of the Girls — see Eunuch, Chief 

Chief Interpreter of the Porte, 107, 108 
Chief Laundress, 155 
Chief Musician, no 
Chief official in charge of tents and 

paviHons of the Sultan {Chadir-Mihter- 

bashi), 130 
Chief Overseer of the Great Bath {Hamangi- 

bachi), 208 
Chief page, 121 
Chief Physician, 133 
Chief of the Standard {Mir-Alem), 108 
Chief Taster [Chasnijir-bashi), 114 
Chief of the Ushers {Chiaus Pasha), 104, 

Chilier, the (Store), 83, 86 
Chimneys, 114, 160 
China, 30, 56, 138, 139, 180 
Chinese porcelain, collections of {^ini 

Hazirtesi), 242-243 
ChiniU or Tile Kiosk, 50, 51, 78, 79, 80, 160 
Chinili Mosque, at Isnik, 80 
Chishull, Rev. Edmund, on the Seraglio, 

39 et seq., 46, 73 
Chnct (henna), 164 and n. 
Choiseul-Gouffier, Comte de, engravings 

of, 74 
Chokadar (Bearer of the Royal Robes), 96 
Chorbaji-bashi (Head Soup-distributor), 

Agha of Janissaries, 91 
Christian asceticism, 136, 142 
Chukur Hatnami (Sunken Bath), 214 

Chussech {kuiak) (girdle), 171 

Chussech (scarves), 165 

^ini Hazinesi (Chinese porcelain), 242-243 

Cippico, — , on the janissaries, 89 

Circassia, slaves from, 122 

Circassians, 20, 21, 122 

Cistern of looi Columns {Bin Bir Direk), 

Cisterns, 99, 124 
Cisterns of Arcadius, 214 
Claudian, attacks of, on etmuchs, 138 
Claudius Gothicus, 55 
Clement of Alexandria, on chastity, 136 
Cloaks, women's : Casacche or Casacca, 

163 and n. ; Dullimano, 164 
Clocks, 42, 43, 47, 193 
Cloth, painted, 64 
Coats, female, 167 and n. 
Coats, soldiers' (mandiHons), 167 and n. 
Coffee-rooms, in, 112, 157 
Colonnades, 99, loi, 118 
Commander of the Chamberlains {Mir- 
Alem), 108 
Concubines, 20, 178 et seq. ; bedroom ritual 

of Sultan for, 179-180 
Confectioners, 113 
Confectioners' mosque, 119 
Constantine Dragases, Emperor, 56 
Constantine the Great, 56, 59, 67, 69, 138, 

Constantine IX Monomacus, and the 

Byzantine Mangana buildings, 67 
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and the hot 

springs at Brusa, 227 
Constantinople (Istanbul), 17, 19, 31, 40, 

42, 44, 51, 56, 57, 58, 63, 79, 91, 109, 112, 

122, 123, 124, 134, 162, 165, 213 et seq., 

228, 235, 246, 248 
Constantius and the Yah Kiosk, 76 
Constantius, Emperor, building of New 

Rome completed by, 56; power of 

eunuchs over, 138 
Consultation Place of the Jinn {Jin 

Mii^averet Mahalle), 197, 200 
Controller of the kitchen staff {Kilerji- 

bashi), 120 
Controller of a prince's household {Lata 

Pasha), 128 
Cooking in the liar em, 183 
Corone, oil for Seragho from, 115 
Corps of regular soldiers {eshkenji), 93 
Corridors: of the Bath {Hamam Yolu), 153 

and «., 193, 194, 205, 207; of the Black 



Eunuchs, 48 ; of the Consultation Place 
of the Jinn [JinMii^averet Mahalle), 197, 
200; enclosed colonnade, 126-127; of 
the Hearth [Ocakli Sofa), 193 ; of the 
kitchens, 112. See also Golden Road 

Costume, female, 21, 161, 162 et seq.; 
male, 27, 50, 86, 88, 91, 95, lOi, 106, 
107, no, 120, 121, 130-131 and n., 133, 
161-162, 167, 171 «., 183-184, 189, 215 

Council of State, 100, 102, 103 et seq. 

Court ceremonial, 98, loi 

Court of Ceremonial — see Second Court 

Court of the Divan — see Second Court 

Court of the Fountain, no, in 

Court of the Janissaries — see First Court 

Court officials, places of, during an audi- 
ence, 107-108 

Courts in the SeragUo, 18, 47. See also 
under the names of the Courts 

Courtyard of the harem girls, 24 

Covel, Dr John, cited, 185 

Cradle, royal {Murassa altin beiik), in the 
Museum, 156 

Critoboulus, manuscript of, in SeragUo 
Ubrary, 235 

Crusaders, capture of Nicasa by, 227 

Cufic inscriptions as decorations, 126, 129, 
160, 193, 196, 255 

Cumlekapisi (main door o{ harem), 154 

Cupbearer [Sharabdar), the, 96 

Cupolas, 113. See also Domes 

Curdee (Uned robe), 168 

Cybele-Attis cult, 136 

Cyprus, henna from, 164 n. 

Cyrus, employment of eunuchs by, 137- 

Dallam, Thomas, cited, 31 ef seq., 166- 

167, 200, 201 
Damascus, holy reUcs at, 246, 248 
Dancers and dances in the harem, 184 
Dandolo, Doge of Venice, 56 
David, Sir Percival, 242, 243 
D'Ohsson, Ignace Mouradja, cited, 74, 114, 

130, 132, 179 
Deaf-mutes, 30, 50, 116, 197, 198, 199 
Deer in tiling, design of, unique, 202 
Defter dari, the, 104, 105, 106, 116 
Defterhane (Registry), loi 
De^irmen Kapi — see Gate of the Mill 
della Valle, Pietro, 29 
Delphi, oracle of, 54; temple of Apollo at, 

55 «• 

Demir Kapi — see Iron Gate 

Depilatory, the, 163, 164, 217, 219, 220, 224 

Depository of Archives of Finance, officer 

in charge of (Hazinedar-bashi), 130 
Depository of the Sultan's Seals {Has Oda- 

bashi), 120, 121 
Des Hayes, Louis, on the SeragUo kitchens, 


Dgebedgiler-Kieuchk (Kiosk of the Basket- 
makers), 77-78 

Dhil-l-hijja, date of Kurban Bairam, 76 n. 

Dining-room (yemek odasi) : of the Sultan 
VaUde, 159; of Ahmed III, 196 

Divan, the, 38, 49, 51, 101-102, 104, 107, 
108, 109, 113, 125, 191. See also Public 

Divan Tower, 102, 103, no, 126; roofs 
and views seen from, 24-25 

Dizlik, dyslik (short drawers), 169 

Djevher Agha, eunuch, 135 

Doctors, Seraglio, 133, 149 

Dolapli Kubbe (Domed Anteroom with 
Cupboards), 125, 126 

Dolma Baghtche, 48, 211 

Domed Anteroom with Cupboards [Dol- 
apli Kubbe), 125, 126 

Domes, 46, loi, 108, 114, 193, 200, 208, 
216, 250 

Domitian, laws of, against castration, 134, 

138, 147 
Doors, 125, 129, 160 ; iron, 97 ; main 

harem [ciimlekapisi), 125, 154; double, 

126, 150 
Doorway, bricked up, in outer SeragUo 

waU, 200-201 
Dormitories, 112, 119, 127; with gaUery, 

no, in, 112 
Dowa (depilatory paste), 219. See also 

Drawers, short {Dizlik), 169. See also 

Dressing-room of bath of SeUm II, 208 
'Dropping the handkerchief,' 179, 180, 

181, 259, 260 
Du Camp, Maxime, cited, 50 
Du Loir, — , cited, 62, 73 
Ducas, — , cited, 89 
Dullimano (female cloak), 164 
Dungeons, 99 
Dwarfs, 30, 119 

Eastern Gate (Gate of St Demetrius, Porta 
de isole), 61 



Egypt, 134, 190 

Elizabeth, Queen, and trade with Turkey, 
31. 32 . 

Emanat Hazinesi — see Treasury Deposit 

Ensle, Jacob, gardener of the Summer 
Palace, 63 

Ephesus, 40, 147 

Eshkenji (corps of regular soldiers), 93 

Eski Kaplija, 228, 229 

Eski Serai — see Old Serai 

Esvap Odasi (Chamber of Robes Kiosk), 

Et-meidan Square, the, 55 «., 94 

Eunuch, Chief Black {Kislar Agha), 24, 
46, 47, 57, 96, 108, 120, 125, 128 et seq., 
133, 161, 165, 177, 178, 185, 186, 189-191, 
225, 249, 259, 260 

Eunuch, Chief White {Kapi Agha), 50, 73, 
85, 108, 113, 118, 120, 129, 130, 133 ; 
one in charge of the Treasury [Hazinedar- 
bashi), 120 

Eunuch of the Second Gate {Ikinji-Kapi- 
oghlan)y 240 

Eunuchs, 134 et seq., 140 et seq. ; black, 24, 
43, 46, 47, 48, 65, 119, 122, 125 et seq., 
132, 133, 139, 149, 152-153 and «., 154, 
176 {see also Eunuch, Chief Black); 
white, 85, 107, no, 117, 118 et seq., 
121, 129, 133, 139, 149, 239, 241 {see also 
Eunuch, Chief White) ; Aga, 118; re- 
ligious, 13s et seq., 142 ; Chinese, 139, 
143, 145, 149-150; bibliography of, 

Eunuchs' Mosque, the, 126 

Eutrqpius, eunuch, 138 

Evhyd Efendi, cited, 89, 116-117, 210, 214 

Bx-kadins, marriage of, 184 

' Example stones,' 83 

Executioners, corps furnishing {Veznedars), 

Executions, 71 

Eye-black {kofjl, kajal, etc.), 164 n. 

Eyebrows, meeting of, 164 

Eyyub mosque, 126 

Faience, 126, 226. See also Tiles 

FarineUi, male soprano, 136 

Favourites of the Sultan {Ikbals), 175 

Fazil, 225 

Ferace,feridje,ferigee (outer robe), 172, 173 

Fetvas (spiritual sanction), 94, 192 

Fig-trees, in 

First Court (Court of the Janissaries), 18, 

42, 50, 57, 59, 66, 78, 82 et seq., 131, 

161, 204, 245 
First Merchant of the Grand Signor {Baser- 

guian bachi), Flachat created, 44 
Fish-pond, near Baghdad Kiosk, 33, 34, 

41, 201 
Flachat, Jean-Claude, cited, 44 et seq., 117, 

200, 225, 258-260 
Flour-miUs on Seraglio Hill, 15 
Food, suppUes of, in the Seraglio, 115 etseq. 
Food-porters, 112 
Footprints of the Prophet, 246, 250 
Forum of Taurus, or Theodosius, 58 
Fossati, Gaspard, painting by, 82, 84 
Fotaza (female indoor headdress), 171-172 
Fountain of Ahmed III, 94, 95 
Fountain of Execution, the, 83 
Fountains, 38, 43, 46, 83, 94, 100, 112, 119, 

126, 155, 157, 204, 215, 233, 256. See 

also Wall fountams 
Fourth Court {Dordiincii Avlu), 46, 49, 51, 

82, 153, 251, 252 et seq. 
Fourth Crusade, the, Constantinople taken 

in, 56 
Fourth Hill, mosque of Muhammad II on, 

213 ; Baths of Constantine on, 214 
French style decorations in the Seraglio, 45, 

102, 128, 152-153, 194. 195 
Fur peHsse {kurk), 171 

Gainsford, Thomas, 29 

Galata, 73, 74, 239, 240 

Galata Bridge, 135 

Galland, Antoine, 13, 75 

Gallery, apartment of female slaves ("Log. 
des Odalisques"), 65 ; between Chamber 
of Divan and Gate of the Throne, 107 

Gardener, Head {Bostanji-bashi), 33, 40, 62, 
63, 116, 259; as executioner, 71 

Gardeners {Bostanji), 61,62 

Gardens, 30, 33, 40, 46, 50, 63, 72, 74, ii6, 
156, 194, 195, 252 et seq. 

Gate: of the Aviary {Kufhatte Kapisi), 154, 
192; Carriage {Araba Kapisi), 125, 154; 
Central {Bab-el-Seldm, Ortakapi, Gate of 
First Court, Gate of Salutation), 18, 50,61, 
74, 83, 84, 85, 97-98, 99, 107, 118, 130; 
of the Cool Fountain, or Fountain of 
Cold Water {Soguk <^e}me Kapi), 60, 72, 
74, 78; of the Dead {Meyyit Kapi), 109; 
exit, from selamlik, 201 ; of Felicity 
{Bab-i-Saadet), 18, 40, 49, 51, 103, 104, 
107, 117 et seq., 233; of the Fish-house 



(Balik Hane Kapi), 59, 70; of the Foun- 
tain {^adirvan Kapisi), 251; of the 
Gardeners {Bostanji Kapi), 61, 74; of the 
Grand Vizir SokolU, 74; of the Mill 
{Degirmen Kapi), 63, 66, 86; of St 
Barbara, 67 ; of St Demetrius, 61 ; of 
Salutation — see Gate, Central; of the 
Second Court, 18; of the Stables [Akhor 
Kapi), 59, 60, 71, 95 ; of Sultan Sulei- 
man, 74 ; Third (Ugiincii Kapi), 49, 55, 
257, 260; of the Throne {Bab-el-Saadet), 
107 ; of the Throne {Taht Kapisi), 160 ; of 
the White Eunuchs {Aka^alar Kapisi), 117 

Gatekeeper-in-Chief (Kapi Agha), 120 

Gatekeepers [Kapici), 32, 82, 96, 98 

Gates to the harem, 56, 64, 154 

Gazebos [sacnissis), 47, 72 

Georgia, supply of slaves from, 122 

Geuffroy, Antoine, cited, 237 

Gezilen Verier (parts of the Seraglio open to 
the pubhc), 22 

Gezilmiyen Verier (parts of the Seraglio not 
open to the public), 22 

Gibbon, Edward, on the reign of eunuchs, 

GOles, Pierre, cited, 60, 99, 213, 214 

" Girding of the Sword " ceremony, 194 

Girdle, female (ku^ak), 168, 171 

Girgenti, Greek temples at, 54 

Golden Gate, the, 64 

Golden Horn, the, 24, 55, 58, 60, 62, 69, 
72, 73, 74, 127, 195 

Golden Road, the, 29, 40, 42, 125, 129, 154, 
159, 160, 161, 193, 197, 200, 201 

Gomlek, giumlik — see Chemises 

Goths' Column, the, 40, 43, 55, 66, 201, 

Gown [caftan, antery), 167, 169 et seq. 

Granada, Alhambra at, 123, 124, 129 

Grand Chamberlain (Kapijilar-Kiayasi), 106 

Grand Chancellor (Nisangl Pasha), 104, 105 

Grand Master of the Ceremonies, 107 

Grand Master of the Knights of St John, 

Grand Master of Petitions [Chaush-bashi], 

Grand Pasha, 115 
Grand Seigneur — see Sultan 
Grand Seraglio, the [Veni Serai), 17, 58 
Grand Treasurer (Hazinedar Agha), 132 ; 

deputy of [Hazine-Vekil), 132 
Grand Vizir, 14, 72, 84, 96, loi, 102, 104 et 

seq., 129, 191, 201 

Great Chamber [Btiyiik Oda or Veni Oda), 
239-240, 241 

♦' Great house " in the SeragUo, 33-34 

Great and Little Halls of the Palace School, 

Great and Little Halls of the Seraglio, 239 

Great Stables {Btiyiik Akhor), 72, 109; 
Sultan's privy stables, 109 

Greaves, John, 35, 36 

Greece, 86, 104, 105, 115, 138 

Greek colonists, 54 

Greek Empire, the, 3 1 

Greeks, Byzantine, 134, 135, 227 

Green Mosque [Ve^il Cami), 80, 226 

Green Tiirbeh of Muhammad I, 80 

Gregory of Nyssa, on chastity, 136 

Grelot, G.-J., cited, 29, 61, 63, 73, 75, 

Grimaldi, male soprano, 136 

Grimstone, Edward, 29, 37 

Grosvenor, E. A., cited, 77 

Guard-room (Nobetyeri), 99, 129, 154, 161 

Gulhane Kapi or Kara Kapi, the, 59, 72 

Gtilhane Kapi (hospital), 59 

Gulhane Kiosk, 78, 81 

Gulistdn (Sadi), 235 

Gumtis ve Billur Salonu (silver and glass col- 
lection), 208, 242 

Gurlitt, Professor C, cited 51, 62, 78 

Guzdeh (' in the eye '), 178 

Gyllius — see Gilles, Pierre 

Hair, female, dyeing and arrangement of, 

Haji Bektash, dervish, 88, 89, 90 
Haji Salih Pasha, Grand Vizir, 71 
Halberdiers of the Outer Service {Bal- 

tajilers), 95, iio-iii, 125, 126, 131, 204 
Halil Edhem, on the new library of the 

Seraglio, 236 
Hall of the Ambassadors, Alhambra, 

Granada, 193 
Hall of Campaign [Seferli Kogu^u), 121, 

207, 240, 242 
Hall of Circumcision [Stinnet Odasi), 24, 

34, 41, 193, 201, 251, 253, 255 
Hall of the Divan (Kubbealti), 24, 100, lOi, 

102, 108, 126, 152, 154 
Hall of the harem, 43 

Hall of the Pantry {Kiler Ko^u^u), 244, 252 
Hall of Pillars, 161,256 
Hall of the Royal Chamber [Hasodalilar 
Koguiu), 24, 244 



Hall of the Treasury {Hazine Kogu^u), 244 

Hamam Yolu — see Corridor of the Bath 

Hamams, 155, 157. See also Bath 

Hamangibachi (Chief Overseer of the Great 
Bath), 208 

Handkerchief [metidil or ya^lik), 180 

Harbome, WilUam, Ambassador to the 
Porte, 31-32 

Harem, Imperial, 13 et seq., 20-21, 21-22, 
23 etseq., 28, 38, 40, 41, 42-43. 44, 46-48, 
51, 64, 81, loi, 108, no, 119, 129, 132, 
137, 140, 148, 150, i$2etseq., 161, 163, 174 
et seq., 185, 193 et seq., 206 et seq. ; Trea- 
surer of [Hazinedar Usta), 24, 177; girls 
of, 24, 125, 152, 156, 166, 177, 203 et 
alibi; gates of, 56, 64, 154; slaves in, 123, 
154-155; ladies of, 125, 154, 163 etseq.; 
personnel of, 154-155, 174-175, 176 et 
seq. ; wall of, 154; mosques in, 161, 176, 
236; women of, drowned in sacks, 185- 
186, 197; intrigues in, and end of, 185- 

Harem of the imprisoned princes, 197 

Haremlik, meaning of, 15-16 

Ifaremlik and selamlik, meeting-place of, 

Harness, jewelled, of the SeragUo, 31, 109- 

Harun-al-Rashid, 184 

Harvey, Mrs, on Turkish baths, 223 

Has Oda, various meanings of, 46, 120, 239, 

Has Oda-bashi (Depositary of the Sultan's 
Seals), 120, 121 

Has Odasi, 251 

Hasinedar-bashi — see Treasury, White Eu- 
nuch in charge of 

Hasluck, F. W., on the janissaries, 89 

Hasodalilar Ko^u^u (HaU of the Royal 
Chamber), 24, 244 

Hassan Pasha's Kiosk, 64 

Hasseky, tiling in madraseh of, 80 

Hastalar Kapi (Hospital Gate), 66 

Hatijeh Sultan, 153 

Hats, 88, 95, no, 130 

Hatti Sherif, the, 81 

Havuz (water garden), 256 

Hazine — see Treasury 

Hazine-Vekil (deputy Grand Treasurer), 

Hazinedar Agha (Grand Treasurer), 132 

Hazinedar Usta (Treasurer of the barem), 
24. 177 

Hazinedar-bashi — see Treasurer 
Head Cook (A^gi-bashi), 91, 114 
Head Gardener — 5ee Gardener, Head 
Head Nurse, 24, 155, 156, 157, 158 
Head Soup-distributor (Cliorbaji-bashi), 91 
Head of the Virgins {Kislar Agha), 133 
Head Water-carrier (Sakka-bashi), 91 
Headdresses and head-coverings, female, 

164, 165, 167, 168, 171, 172; male, 96. 

5ee also Hats, Turbans 
Heads, severed, exposed, 82, 98, 99 
Hekimba^i Odasi (Chamber of the Chief 

Physician), 256, 257 
Helvaji-bashi (Chief Confectioner), 8i, 114 
Henna {Chnh), 164 and n. 
Herb-beer [Cervosa), 164 
Hermotimus the Pedasian, 147 
Herodotus, on castration, 138, 147 
Heshtebesht Palace, Tabriz, 243 
Hierosohmitano, Domenico, description 

of the Seraglio by, 19, 34, 235 
Hippodrome, the, or Et-meidan Square, 55 

and n., 70, 94, 213 
Hirka ^erif—see Holy Mantle 
Hirkai §erif Odasi — see Pavihon of the Holy 

Hobson, R. L., cited, 242 
Holy Aposdes, Church of, 214 
Holy Mande {Hirka §erif), 34, 246 et seq. 
Holy Mande, Chamber or Pavihon of— 5ee 

Pavihon of the Holy Mantle 
Homosexuahty, female, 148, 220; male, 

Honey, 115 
Horse fountain, 83 
Horsehair face-screen, woman's, 172 
Hospital Gate [Hastalar Kapi), 66 
Hospital for girls, 24, 28 
Hospitals, 15, 59, 66, 84, 85, 156, 157 et 

seq., 205, 245 
House of Fehcity, 18, 193 
House of Slaughter, the {Kafes or Princes* 

Prison), 33, 34 
House slippers (^(pj(p, tchipship), 171 
Hulaku, Khan of the Mongols, 246 n. 
Hungary, honey from, 115; Sacred Stand- 
ard sent to, 248 
Hiinkdr Hamami (Sultan's Bath), 205 
Hiinkdr Sofasi — ^ee Royal Saloon 
Hurufi sect, the, 90 

Ibn Batuta, cited, 89 
Ibrahim, Grand Vizir, 74, 175 



Ibrahim, Sultan, 77-78, 186, 188-189, ipo. 

191, 198-199, 201, 240, 255, 258 
Ibrahim Pasha, 240 
Ig-oghlans — see Pages 
Ice-supply for the Seraglio, 117 
Ighazine (Imier Treasury), 24, 108 
Iftariye — see Canopy on Columns 
Ikbals (Favourites of the Sultan), 175 
Ikinji-Kapi-oghlan (Eimuch of the Second 

Gate), 240 
Imam of the Sultan VaHde, 132 
Imperial Arsenal Buildings (Mangana), 66, 

Imperial Gate {Bab-i-Hamayun) — see Sub- 

hme Porte 
Imperial Mint, the, 31, 83, 87 
Infirmary, the, 83, 85, 121, 204 
Injili Ko^kti — see Kiosk of Pearls 
Inner Chamber {Has Oda), 121 
Inner courtyard to the harem, 6$ 
Inner Service, the, 97, 100, 119, 120, 204 
Iimer Treasury {Ighazine), 24, 108 
Inner Treasury (Khazaneh Khds), 210 
Inner Wall, the, 97, 109 
Inspector of the Pubhc Treasury [Veznedar- 

hashi), 130 
Inspector of the vakfs [Nazir), 129 
lonians, castrated by Persians, 138 
Iron Gate [Demir Kapi, Bostanji Kapi, Gate 

of the Gardeners), 67, 68, 74 
Isaac II Angelus, Emperor, and the Mangana 

buildings, 68 
Islamic Creed, the, 98 and n. 
Isnik, tiling at Chinili mosque at, 80 
Istanbul — see Constantinople 

Janissaries, the, 14, 33, 40, 57, 62, 70, 73, 

78, 83, 86, 88 et seci., loi, 103, 107, 108, 

118, 187, 188, 199, 237-238 
Javelins, used in game o£ jerld, 69 
Jertd, playing field, 69-70 
Jewels, loi, 107, 177, 183 et alibi; in female 

attire, 167 et seq. 
Jinn, the consultation place of (Jin Mu§- 

averet Mahalle), 197, 200 
Justinian, 56, 59, 70, 213, 227, 228, 229 
Juvenal, on castration, 148 

Ka'aba, the, at Mecca, 250 ; key of, 249 

Ka'b ibn Zuhayr, 246-247 

Kadinlar Sultanati (Reign of Women), 

Kadins (Cadines or Sultanas), 20, 87, 113, 

152, 154, 158, 159-160, 161, 171, 172, 

175, 176, 177, 178 etseq. ; First or Chief, 

65, 174, 186-187 
Kafes — see Princes' Prison 
Kalpak — see Talpock 
Kalvet (state of complete privacy), 259 
Kanuni Teshrifat (Law of Ceremonies), 

Kapi Agha — see Eunuch, Chief White 
Kapiagasi Dairesi, suite of Chief White 

Eunuch, 118 
Kapici — see Gatekeepers 
Kapijilar-Kiayasi (Grand Chamberlain), 106 
Kara Kapi or Giilhane Kapi, the, 59 
Kara-Mustafa, Grand Vizir, 188, 229 
Karaman, the Prince of, 228 
Kazi-Koi, 210 

Kaziaskers — see Cad] leschieri 
Keeper of the Baths, 177 
Keeper of the Jewels, 177 
Keeper of the Lingerie, 179 
Keeper of the Presents [Peshkeshji-bashi), 

Keeper of the Sherbets, 132 
Keeper of the Storerooms, 177 
Ketkhuda or Kiaya (Lady Controller), 177 
Kettles of the Janissaries [Kazan), 91 etseq. 
Khazaneh Khas (Inner Treasury), 210 
Khurrem — see Roxelana 
Kiat Khanet (Sweet Waters of Europe), 

Kiaya Caden — see Mistress of the harem 
Kiler Kogu^u (Hall of the Pantry), 244, 252 
Kiler Oda (Chamber of the Pantry), 239, 

Kilerji-bashi (Controller of the Kitchen 

Staff), 120 
King's Gate (Bab-i-Sa'adet), 117 
Kiosk of Abd ul-Mejid [Mecidiye Ko^kii), 

51, 153, 252, 257 
Kiosk of the Basket-makers, the [Sepetjiler 

KoikU), 77-78 
Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha {Sofa Ko^kU), 256 
Kiosk of Pearls {Injili Ko^kU), 68 and «., 69, 

70, 75 
Kiosk of the ThirdEstate {Ugiincii Yeri), 257 
Kiosks, 30, 41, 46, 47, 60. See also under 

names of kiosks 
Kislar Agha — see Eunuch, Chief Black 
Kitchen service, controller of {Kikrji- 

bashi), 239 
Kitchen staff, 112, 114-115, 157 
Kitchen utensils, 116 



Kitchens (mutfak't), 15, 31, 49, 50, 65, 81, 
87,101, 108, iizetseq., 124, 155, 157,243 

Kiusem (Kiosem or Kieuzel), Sultan, 188, 
191, 192 

Kohl, kajal, surma, ttitia (eye-black), 164 n. 

Koran, the, 121, 134, 210, 226, 235, 247, 249 

Kuhbealti — see Hall of the Divan 

Kublai Khan, 245 «. 

Kii^iik Kiikiirtlu, sulphur baths at Brusa, 229 

Kiigilk Oda (Little Chamber), 240 

Kurk (fur peUsse), 171 

Ku^ak, Kooshak, Chussech (girdle), 168, 171 

Ku^hane Kapisi (Gate of the Aviary), 1 54, 192 

Kiitiiphanesi — see Library of Ahmed III 

Kynegion, the, 66 

L-SHAPED pillared hall, 34, 201, 251 

La Motraye, Aubry de, description of 

Seraglio by, 41 et seq. 
Lata Pasha (controller of a prince's house- 
hold), 128 
Lane, E. L., cited, 219 
Latrines, no, 204 
Laundry men {Seferlis), 208 
Laundry work, 155, 207, 208, 240 
Lavatories, 155, 156, 157, 204, 205, 207, 209. 

5ee also Latrines 
Law of Ceremonies {Kanuni Teshrifat), the, 

Leander's Tower, 67 
LeUo, Henry, 32, 36 
Leo the Armenian, Emperor, walls built 

by, 56 
Leo the Isaurian, Emperor, restorations to 

walls by, 59 
Leo XIII, Pope, 136 
Lesbianism, 148, 220 
Lesbians, 176 

Levant, the, 44, 122, 138, 139 
Levant Company, the, 31-32, 40 
Liaison officer between Sultan and Kislar 

Agha (Bash-Mussahib), 132 
Library, hbraries, 24, 31, 49, 50, 51, 124 
Library of Ahmed I, 235 
Library {Kiitiiphanesi) of Ahmed III, 196, 

233, is^etseq., 241 
Library, New, 233 
Lithdm, lisam (Tuareg veil), 172 
Litter-bearers, 121 
Little Chamber [Kiigiik Oda), 240 
Liu, President, and castration, 149 
Lybyer, Professor A. H., cited, 237 
Lygos, Byzantium founded on site of, 54 

Maheyin Hutnayun (reception-room of the 

selamlik), 201 
McCuUagh, F., cited, 20 
Macedonian supremacy, 55 
Madraseh of Hasseky, tiles in, 80 
Mafil-i-Humayun (Tribune of the Sultan), 

Mahmud I, 44, 45, 63, 225, 258 
Mahmud II, 49, 62, 70, 93, 94, 102, 199, 21 1 
Mahmud III, 181 n. 
Mahramah (veil, outdoor), 172 
* Make-up,' 164 and n. 
Malcolm, Admiral Sir Pulteney, 49 
Male sopranos (castrati), 136 
Malta, 191, 219 
Maltese, the, 190, 191 
Mamboury, Professor, cited, 68, 131 
Manageress of the Table Service, 177 
MandiHon (soldier's coat), 167 and n. 
Mangana, Imperial arsenal, 66, 68; 

Monastery of, 67, 68; Palace of, 68; 

Tower, 67, 68 
Manuel I Comnenus, walls restored and 

tovsTis built by, 56, 59, 67 
Marble mounting block, 126 
Marble or Marmor Kiosk, 60 «., 6i «., 62, 65 
Marble terrace {Sultan Ibrahim Kameriyesi), 

Marcian, Emperor, additions to New Rome 

made by, 56 
Maritza, battle of, 57 
Marmora, Sea of, 17, 24, 54, 55, 58, 60, 62, 

63. 64, 95. 109, 112, 156, 159, 197, 252 
Martial, on castration, 147, 148 
Mashata arcades, in Sancta Sophia, 123 
Massage, 230-231 

Master of Ceremonies {Kapi Agha), 120 
Master of the Chamber {Oda-Lala), 132 
Mattress cupboards, 156, 176 
Meals, 105-106 
Meat, 115 

Mecca, 15, 129, 150, 190, 246, 248 
Mecca, the Sherif of, 249 
Mecidiye Koikii — see Kiosk of Abd ul-Mejid 
Medes, the, and battle of Platxa, 55 
Medina, 15, 129 
Megara, the Dorians of, 54 
Mehemed, Prince, tiirbeh of, 80 
Melling, Antoine, cited, 62, 63, 64, 65, 

66, 76, 77, 84-85, 86, 92, 94 et seq., 

103, 104, 107, 176 
Menavino, cited, 19, 27, 28, 237, 241, 244 
Mendil (handkerchief), 180 



Men's quarters — see Selamlik 

Mess-room of Halberdiers, in 

Messenia, 115 m. 

Meyyit Kapi (Gate of the Dead), 109 

Mezolere (trencher), 105 

Michael II, Emperor, restoration to walls 
made by, 59 

Michael III, Emperor, walls built by, 56; 
marble stables erected by, 71 

Michael VIII Palaeologus, Byzantium 
taken by, 56 

Michael the Protovestarius, Postern of, 71 

Mihtary School of State, the, 15, 237 

Mill, the, 63, 66, 86 

Miller, Dr Bamette, cited, 29, 5 1 , 84 et passim 

MiUingen, Alexander van, on Byzantium, 
54, 61 n., 67, 83 n. 

Minister of Foreign Affairs, 201 

Mir-Alem (Chief of the Standard, Com- 
mander of the Chamberlains), 108 

Mirimah Mosque, the, 123 

Mistress of the harem [Kiaya Caden or 
Ketkhuda), 132, 155, 156, 177 

Mistress of the Robes, 177, 178, 179 

Mistresses {Ustas), 183 

Modone, oil from, 115 

Moldavia, honey from, 115 

Mongols, the, 245 n. 

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, cited, 167- 
168, 170, 179, 212, 222, 224 

Montesquieu, Charles le Secondat, Baron 
de, cited, 146-147 

Mosque: of Ahmed {Sultanahmet Camii), 
in the Third Court, 236; of Ahmed I, in 
the Et-meidan Square, 94, 213; of the 
Barber, Kairwan, dedicated to Abu 
Zemaa el Beloui, 245 ; of Bejir Aga, 
109; Chinih, at Isnik, 80; of the Con- 
queror, 80 ; of Murad I, at Brusa, 229 ; 
of the Pages' School, 24, 31; of the 
Palace School, 24, 236; of Rustem Pasha, 
123, 124; of Sehm and its tiirbehs, 80; 
of Sidi the Companion, 245; of Sinan 
Pasha, 123 

Mosques, 15, 31, 66, 109, no, 112, 119, 
123, 124, 194, 233; in the Seraglio, 15, 
24; Imperial, 129; in the Harem, 161, 
176, 236 

Motraye, Aubry de La, cited, 41, 42-43 

Motrib-khdn (Musicians' Room), 112, 210 

Moustapha Pacha Kieuschk, 22. See also 

Mu'awiweh I, 247 

Muchaver Pasha (Vice-Admiral Sir Adol- 

phus Slade), 49 
Mudania, near Brusa, 228, 229 
Mufti, the, 191, 192, 201 
Muhammad, the Prophet, cited, 142; Holy 

Robe and other relics of, 121, 245 et seq. 
Muhammad I, 14, 57, 80, 184 
Muhammad II, 17, 56, 57, 58, 78, 82, 91, 

97, 108, 112, 213, 214, 233. 238, 239, 

250, 257 
Muhammad III, 32, 33, 34, 187, 197, 248 
Muhammed IV, 185, 186, 190, 191, 192, 

210, 258 
Muhammad V, 60 

Muhammad Kiuprili I, Grand Vizir, 192 
Mtihur ^erif (sacred seal), 249-250 
Mundy, Peter, cited, 28, 36 
Murad I, 14, 57, 88, 228, 229 
Murad II, 57, 89, 134 
Murad III, 19, 25, 29, 32, 68, 75, 92, 102, 

129, 132, 186-187, 193. 195-196, 200, 

Murad IV, 73, 188, 198, 210, 253, 254 
Murassa altin be^ik (royal cradle), 156 
Museum of Porcelaines, 22 
Museum in the SeragUo, 23, 55 «., 166, 

205, 233, 242 
Musicians' room (motrib-khdn), 112, 210 
MusUm Institution, the, loi 
Mussahibs (officers carrying orders from 

Sultan to Mistress o£ harem), 132 
Mustafa I, 187 
Mustafa II, 179, 233 
Mustafa IV, 199 
Mustafa Pasha, Kiosk of, 256 
Miitalea Salomi (reading-room), 236 
Mutawakkil, Caliph, 245 n. 
Muthakh-emini (Steward of the Kitchen), 

n4 ^ 
Mutfak't — see Kitchens 

Nadir Agha, eunuch, 135 
Nalin — see Pattens 
Nargilehs — see Persian water-pipes 
NatoUa (Anatoha), 104, 105 
Navagero, Bernardo, cited, 237 
Nazir (Inspector of the vakfs), 129 
Nea, or New Church of Basil the Mace- 
donian, 69 
Negresses, 158, 183, 223 
Negroponte, biscuits from, 86 
Nerva, edicts against castration by, 138 
New Bridge, the, 66 



New Kiosk, the, near the Summer Palace, 

New Pavihon — see Kiosk of Abd ul-Mejid 
New Rome — see Constantinople 
New Testament, the, 14, 236 
Nicaea, capture of, by Crusaders, 227 
Nicetas Chroniates (Acominatus), cited, 67 
Nicolay, Nicolas de, cited, 27-28, 83, 114, 

163, 165, 170, 200 
Nicolini, male soprano, 136 
Nicomedia, 227 
Nika revolt, the, 213 

Nisang) Pasha (Grand Chancellor), 104, 105 
Nissa, battle of, 55 
Nohetyeri — see Guard-room 
Nose, female, non-exposure of, 172 
Nur Banu Sultan, Cmef Kadin, 186-187 

Obelisks at the Hippodrome, 55 

Ocakli Sofa (Vestibule of the Hearth), 159, 

Oda, odas (chamber, lodgings, barracks, 

unit, etc.), 91 and n. ; Treasurer of, 132 ; 

Chief Officer of, 245 
Oda-Lala (Master of the Chamber), 132 
Odalisques, 21, 65 and n. 
Odun Kapi (Wood Gate), 78 
Office of directorate of the SeragUo {Kiler 

Ko^u^u), 244 
Officers attached to high State dignitaries, 

quarters of, 108 
Officers carrying orders from Sultan to 

Mistress o( harem {Mussahihs), 132 
Oil, from Greece and Candia, 115 
Ok-meidan (archery ground), 39, 69 
Old Serai {Eski Serai), 17, 58, 125, 135, 

152, 177, 178, 182 
Old Testament, the, 135, 141, 236 
Omar, 246, 248, 249 
' Open gallery* (pillared hall in the seldm- 

lik), 41 
Orbicular stones in a kiosk, 41 
Origen, castration of, 136, 142 
Orkhan, Sultan, 57 and n., 88, 89, 90, 162, 

Orpiment, as depilatory paste, 219 
Orta, meaning of, 91 n. 
Ortakapi — see Gate, Central 
Osman I, Sultan or Emir of the Ottoman 

Turks, 57 and «., 88 
Osman II, 188 
Osman III, 25, 44, 48, 194, 195, 197, 198, 


Osman, 'companion' of the Prophet, 

Osmanh Sultans, 228 

Otanes, Satrap, 55 

Ottoman, Fadier, 191 

Ottoman Empire, the, 14, 18, loi, 129, 
135, 162 

Ottoman Turks, the, 57 

Outer Palace, kiosks in, 78 

Outer Service, no, 130, 204, 238; mem- 
bers of {Ajem-oghlans), 238 

Outer Treasury, Superintendent of [Hazi- 
nedar-bashi), 130 

Pabug, or papoosh (shoes of yellow leather), 

Paestum, 54 
Pages {ig-oghlans), 33, 46, 107, 113, 119, 

120, 203, 208 «., 209; school for — see 

Palace School 
Palace, Old — see Summer Palace 
' Palace,' Persian word for, 16 
" Palace of the Cannon Gate," — see Sum- 
mer Palace 
Palace craftsmen, the, 87 
Palace School, the, 19, 24, 27, 28, 31, 46, 58, 

72, 85, 90, 117, 120, 121, 201, 207, 233, 

237 et seq., 252 
Pallavicini, Marchioness, 52 
Panionius the Chian, 147 
Panttobles (pantouffles) (women's high 

shoes), 167, 171 
Pantomimists in the harem, 184 
Papal choir, castrati in, 136 
Parapets of pierced marble, 82, 200 
Parasol box in harem, 156 
Pardoe, Juha, descriptions of gate and baths 

by, 100, 211-212, 222-223 
Pasha Vizirs, the, 104 
Pashas, 95, 99, 106; with three tails, 129, 

Pa§maklik (pin money), 177 
Pastromani, the (meat beaten out flat), 115 
Pattens {nalin), 217-218, 225, 230, 231 
Pausanias, the Spartan, and the battle of 

Platasa, 55 
Pavihon of Goldsmiths and Gem-setters, 87 
Pavihon, or Chamber, of the Holy Mande 

{Hirkai §erifOdasi), 19, 20, 24, 34, 161, 

201, 202, 236, 244, 246, 249, 251, 252, 

Pavihons for members of the Outer Service, 




Peiks (runners before the Sultan), 95 

Pekin, Palace of, eunuchs at, 138, 139 

Pensions, Jtarem, 177 

Pera, 16, 31, 108, 123, 164 

Persian carpets in the Seraglio, 39, 43, 205 

Persian water-pipes {nargilehs), iii, 205, 

Persians, the, and castration of prisoners, 

Pescennius Niger, 55 
Peshkeshji-bashi (Keeper of the Presents), 

Phihp of Macedon, 55 
Phihps, John, 40 
Physicians, 133, 149, 197 
Pilaf, 92, 107, 116, 176 
Pillared Hall — see Hall of Campaign 
Pindar, Sir Paul, Ambassador to the Porte, 

Place of greeting [seldmlik), 193 
Place-names, redundance of, 17, 58 
Places closed to the pubHc in the SeragHo 

{Gezilmiyen Yerler), 22 
Places open to the pubhc in the Seraglio 

[Gezilen Yerler), 22 
Plaisirs de la petite oie, 149 
Plataea, battle of, 55 
Playing-field, 69 
Pliny the elder, cited, 54 
Pliny the younger, 227 
Plumptre, Anne, translator of Pouqueville's 

Travels, 63 n. 
Polo, Marco, 245 n. 
Polo-ground {Tzycanisterion), 69 
Polygamy, 13, 134, 150 
Porta de Isole, the, 61 
Postern gates, 71, 74 
Pouqueville, F. C, cited, 63 et seq. 
Prayer, attitudes of, 176 
Princes, education of, 30, 128 
Princes' Islands, 61, 62, 252 
Princes' Prison, or Cage (Kafes), 24, 33, 34, 

41, 48, 49, 82, 188, 191, 197 etseq. 
Princes' School, the, 24, 25, 128, 153 n. 
Privy Stables, the, 28, 72 
Procession Gate — see Gate of the Cool 

Procopius, Byzantine Hippodrome de- 
scribed by, 70 and n. 
Prusias, King of Bithynia, 227 
Pubhc Divan, 103, 104, 116 
Pubhc Treasury, Inspector of {Veznedar- 

bashi), 130 

s 273 

Purchas, Samuel, Withers' translation of 
Bon found in writings of, 35, 36 

Purveyor of cloths, linens, muslins, etc. 
{Bazerkian-bashi), 130 

Pythia, former name of Chekirge, 227, 228 

Queen Sultana [Cassachi Sultan), 182 
Queen-Mother — see Sultan Valide 

Rahat Lokum (Turkish delight), 117 
Ramadan, or Ramazan, 76 «., 247, 250, 255 
Ramberti, Benedetto, cited, 27, 114, 237 
Reader of the Koran, 177 
Reading-room [Miitalea Salonu), 236 
Reception-room (Arzodasi) — see Throne 

Recruits for cavalry (Spahi-oghlans), 238 
Registry (Defterhane), the, loi 
Reign of Women {Kadinlar Sultanati), 186 

et seq. 
Reservoir in the l}arem, 155 
Rest-room of bath of Selim II, 207 
Revan (Erivan), 253 
Revan Kiosk, 24, 28, 34, 39, 244, 251, 253, 

254, 255, 256 
Revenue, storage place of, 109 
Richards, John, manuscript of, 145, 146, 

Robes, ceremonial, 107, 121 
Robes, female : caftan, 167, 168, 169 ; 

curdee, 168 ; ferace, 172, 173 
Rockhill, W. W., visit of, to Seragho, 52 
Rococo decorations, 128, 194, 195, 211 
Romans, the, at Byzantium, 55 
Rome, 138, 147, 215 
Room of the Executioner (Celldt Odasi), 

Room of the Sultan's Presence, 201 
Room of the Turban (Revan Kiosk, Sarik 

Odasi), 253 
Roxelana, 74, 135, 175, 176, 186 
Royal bread, 86 

Royal Chamber [Has oda), 239, 244 
Royal Gate — see Gate of Fehcity 
Royal Saloon [Hiinkdr Sofasi), 160, 183, 

193, 195, 196, 205 
Royal Seal {Tugra), 98, 104, 109, 121, 234 
Royal wardrobe, 109 
Ruling Institution, the, loi 
Rumania, honey from, 115 
Rumeha, slave-dealers in, 122 
Runners before the Sultan (Peiks), 95 
Rusma, a depilatory paste, 119, 220 


Rustem Pasha, 123, 124, 226, 229 
Rycaut, Sir Paul, cited, 144, 185 

Sacnissis (gazebos), 47, 72 

Sacred water, phials of, 121 

Sadi, GuUstan of, 235 

^adirvan Kapisi (Gate of the Fountain), 251 

Safieh, Safiye, or BafFa, First Kadin, 187 

Saif al-Dawla, capture of Brusa by, 227 

St Ambrose, on chastity, 136 

St Barbara, Gate of, 60 

St Demetrius, Church of, 61 

St George of the Mangana, monastery 

known as, 67 
St Irene, Church of, 17, 82, 83 and n., 87, 

98 n., 131 
St Jerome, on chastity, 136 
St Lazarus, convent of, 69 
St Mark's, Venice, bronze horses of 

Lysippus at, 56 
St Mary Hodighitria, convent of, 69 
St Paul, Church of, 75 
St Saviour, Church of, healing springs of, 

St Simon, spring of, 244 
Sakal (Beard of the Prophet), 245, 250 
Sakka-bashi (Head Water-carrier), 91 
Sakkas (carriers of water on horseback), 115 
Salman, the Prophet's barber, 250 
Salonica, Abd ul-Hamid's exile in, 20, 21 
,^alvar, shalwar — see Trousers 
Sammu-ramat (Semiramis), 135 
Sancak §erif—see Standard of the Prophet 
Sancta Sophia, 28, 56, 59, 123, 124, 213 
Sandali (clean-shaved eunuchs), 143 
Sandys, George, cited, 29, 75, 76, 144 
Sara, meaning of, 16 
Sarat, meaning of, 16 
Sarai Aghast (Assistant Director of the 

Pages' School), 240 
" Sarail of Sultana," the, 28 
Sarik Odasi — see Revan Kiosk 
Sans, meanings of, 141 
Scamatie, breeches of, 167 and n. 
Scarf, Scarves [Chussechs), 165 
Schedel, Hartmann, cited, 97 
Schiltberger, Johann, cited, 89 
School of cookery, 112 
Scrolls, conical, affixed near exposed heads, 

Scutari, 61, 67, 123, 210 
Sea-gate of the Sea-horses, 38 
Sea-gates, 118 

Sea-walls, 56, 57 et seq. 
Seal, Imperial {tu^ra), 98, 104, 109, 121, 234 
Seal, sacred {Miihiir §erif), 249-250 
Second Court (Court of the Divan), 18, 
28-29, 38, 40, 42, 51, 61, 74, 81, 87, 92, 
97 et seq., loi, 107, 125, 133, 204 
Second Gate, 106 

Seferli Ko^u^u — see Hall of Campaign 
Seferlis (laundry men), 208 
Segban-bashi (Janissary officer), 95 
Segesta, Greek temple at, 54 
Seiman (wadded jacket), 171 
Selamlik, the, 16, 17, 18, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 
32 etseq., 38, 39, no, 119, 125, 154, 160, 
183-184, 193 et seq., 201, 203 
Selenunte, Greek temple at, 54 
Selim I, 14, 201, 208, 228, 239, 243, 246, 

247, 249 
SeUm II, 175, 186, 207-208, 237, 240, 241 
Sehm III, 25, 63, 70, 93, 96, 102, 176, 184, 

194, 199 
Seljuk Turks, the, 57, 227 
Semiramis (Sammu-ramat), 135 
Senesino, male soprano, 136 
Sepet (baskets), 77 

Sepetjiler Ko^kti (Kiosk of the Basket- 
makers), 77-78 
Septimius Severus, 55, 66, 69, 213 
Seraglio, the, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 25-26, 
27 et seq., 34 et seq., 46, 47, 49, 51, ii8, 
124, 132, 133, 148, 152, 159, 163, 175, 
191, 193 ; furnishings of, 38, 39, 43, 47, 
76-77, 102 ; officer in charge of, during 
Sultan's absence (Serai Agha), 120 
SeragUo Hill, 24, 53 et seq., 135 ; Museum, 

23, 55 «., 166, 205, 233, 242 
Seragho Park, 60 
Seraglio Point, 16, 17, 34, 43, 53, 54, 60 et 

seq., 186 
Seragho at Scutari, 61 
Seragho Tower, 63 
Serai, New [Yeni Serai), 17, 58 
Serai, Old — see Old Serai 
Serai Agha (officer in charge of SeragUo 

during Sultan's absence), 120 
Serai Bournou, the, 78 
Seraskerat{^ir Office), 17 
Serpent Column, the, 55 m. 
Seven Towers, land- and sea-walls join at, 

Sharabdar (cupbearer), 96 
Shawl Gate, alleyway to, 126 
Sheikh-ul-Islam, the, 94 



Sherbet, io6, 115, 116, 207 

Shoes, female, 167 and «., 171 

Shore Kiosk — see YaU Kiosk 

Shutters, inlaid, 193 

Silah Miizesi — see Arms Museum 

Silence in the SeragUo Courts, 83, 98, 100, 

Silihdar — see Sword-bearer 
Silihdar Pasha, 188 
Silver and glass collection (Gumii^ ve Billur 

Salottu), 208, 242 
Silver staffs of office, used by officials at 

Divan, 106 
Sinan, Turkish architect, 87, 112, 123, 161 
Sinan Agha (or Sinan) Kiosk, 73, 74, 75, 

76, 77 
Sinan Pasha, Grand Vizir of Murad III, 68, 

§ipiip, tchipship (house slippers), 171 
Skoptsi sect of' rehgious ' eunuchs, 136 
Slade, Vice-Admiral Sir Adolphus, tour 

by, of the Seragho and later history of, 

Slave-trade, 139-140 
Slaves, 116, 139, 222, 223, 237 
Slaves of the Gate (Janissaries), 89 
Shpper money {pa^maklik), 177 
SHpper-boot {^edik or tchelik), 171 
Smock, female, 167 
Smyrna, 42, 45 

Sofa Ko^kii (Kiosk of Mustafa Pasha), 256 
Sofa lounge, 159 
So^^uk (^e^me Kapi — see Gate of the Cool 

Soteropohs, 227 

Spadones, variety of eunuch, 142 
Spahi-oghlans (recruits for cavalry), 238 
Spahis, 107, 191 
Spandugino, Theodoro Cantacasia, cited, 

Sports fields of the Seraglio, 15 
Springs, holy, 68, 244 
Stable Gate — see Gate of the Stables 
Stables, 28, 31, 71, 72, 109 
Standard of the Prophet [Sancak §enf), 94, 

246, 248 
State of Complete Privacy {Kalvet), 259 
Stent, Carter, on Chinese eunuchs, 180 
Steward of the Kitchen (Mutbakh-emini), 

Store, the {Chilier), 83, 86 
Storerooms, 15 
Subhme Porte {Bab-i-Humayun), 31, 59, 

60 «., 72, 74, 82, 94, 97. 99, 200, 

Suleiman the Magnificent, 14, 31, 62, 75, 

81, 100, 102, 130, 132, 135, 162, 175, 176, 

186, 228, 229, 243, 254 
Suleiman II, 191, 198 
Suleiman's spy-hole, 102-103, I04 
Sultan, the, 13, 106, 124, 129, 131, 132, 175, 

183-184, 207, 208 
Sultan Ibrahim Kameriyesi (Marble Ter- 
race), 252 
Sultan Valid^ (Queen-Mother), 14, 25, 32, 

65, 113, 123, 129, 130, 132, 153 M., 154, 

158, 159, 160, 166, 174 et seq., 177, 178, 

186, 193, 199, 203 
Sultan's mews, the, 71-72 
Sultan's robe, 106 
Sultan's Privy Stables, 28, 72, 109 
Sultana Sporca, La, 184-185 
Sultanahmet Camii — see Mosque of Ahmed ; 

Mutalea Salonu 
Sultanahmet Ko§ku{smteo{ fay ouTitcKzdki.), 

Sultanas, 47, 65, 113, 182, 203, 205, 207. 

See also Kadins 
Summer Palace [Top Capu Sarayi), 16, 17, 

20, 21, 46, 63, 153, 258 
Sunken Bath [Chukur Hamami), 214 
Sunnet Odasi — see Hall of Circumcision 
Superintendent of the Outer Treasury 

(Hazinedar-bashi), 130 
Sweet Waters of Europe {Kiat Khanet), 69 
Sword of the Prophet, 245, 250-251 
Sword-bearer {Kilifdar or Silihdar), 96, no, 

Syrian art, 23, 124 

Tahsin Chukru, Director of the Seraglio, 

cited, 79, 80, 87, 160, 202 
Taht Kapisi (Gate of the Throne), 160 
Takke (woman's cap), 171 
Talpock or Kalpak (Armenian headdress), 

168, 171 
Tamerlane, in Brusa, 2(28 
Tana, butter from, 115 
Tandir (charcoal pan), 176 
Taormina, Graeco-Roman temple at, 54 
Tapsi (large dish), 105 
Tarkhan, Sultan Valide, 186, 191-192 
Tasters {Chasnijirs), 114 
Tavemier, J.-B., on the Seragho, 29, 78, 

85, no, 116, 146, 208, 209, 210, 220, 234, 

242, 246, 247, 249-250, 251 



Tcheragan, Palace of, 211 

Tekfur Serai, tile factory at, 80 

Tent {Qadir) Kiosk, 257 

Tents and pavilions of the Sultans, chief 

official in charge of (Chadir-Mihter- 

bashi), 130 
Tepidaria, 204, 205, 206, 230 
TertuUian, cited, 136 
Texier, C. F. M., cited, 214 
Theatres, 55, 66, 69 
Theatron Minor, the, of Septimius Sevenis, 

Theodora, Empress, 227, 229 
Theodosius I, 56, 58 
Theodosius II, 56, 59 
Theophilus, Emperor, 59 
Thevenot, Jean de, cited, 29, 85, 219 
Third Court, the, 28, 34, 38, 40, 42, 49, 51, 

103, 124, 125, 133, 154, 202, 207, 233 et 

seq., 241, 252 
Third Gate {IJguncu Kapi), 49, 55, 257, 260 
Third Hill, the, mint on, 87 
Thhsice, variety of eunuch, 142 
Thlihice, variety of eunuch, 142, 143 
Thrace, Turkish Government transferred 

to, 57 
Throne of the Sultan, 107, 194, 233-234 
Throne Room, or Audience Chamber 

(Arzodasi), 22, 38, 49, 50, 51, 103, 106, 

107, 118, 124, 193 
Throne Room of the Ijaretn, 25 
Throne Room Within {Hiinkdr Sofasi), 193 
Tile Kiosk — see Chinili Kiosk 
Tiles, 47, 79-80, 126, 127, 128-129, 155, 

159, 160, 161, 193 et seq., 202, 251, 

Tinning shop in SeragUo kitchen quarters, 

Tooth of the Prophet, 246, 250 
Top Capu Sarayi — see Summer Palace 
Topi (tier of seats), the, 69 
Topkapi (Cannon Gate), 60 and n., 62, 63 
Toumefort, Joseph-Pitton de, cited, 83, 

Towel or Scarf (Ascuigatoio), 165 
Tower of Eugenius, 75 ; Tower of the 

Mangana, 67, 68 ; Tower of the SeragUo, 


Towers, 24, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 67, 72, 82, 

97, 102, 103, no, 125, 126 
Transylvania, honey from, 115 
Treasurer {Hazinedar-bashi), 120, 129, 130, 


Treasurer of the harem {Hazinedar Usta), 

Treasury, the (Hazine), 23, 120, 208, 236, 
243, 244, 252 ; Chamber of [Hazine Odd), 
239 ; White Eunuch in charge of 
[Hazinedar-bashi), 120, 179, 246 

.Treasury Deposit [Emanat Hazinesi), 244, 

251. 253 
Treasury, Inner [Khazdneh Khas, If hazine), 

24, 108, 109, 210, 233 
Treasury, Privy, in the First Court, 83 
Treasury, Secret, 30 
Trebizond, 122 
Trencher [mezolere), 105 
Tribune of the Sultan [Mafil-i-Humayun), 

Trousers, female [^alvar, shalwar), 164, 166, 

167, 169 
Tuaregs, the, mouth-veils of, 172 
Tugra (royal monogram, royal seal), 98, 

104, 109, 121, 234 
Tuhp gardens 3.nd fetes, 253, 258 
Tunics, female, 166 
Turbans, 50, loi, 107, 120, 162, 171, 

Tiirbeh of Mehemed Pasha, 80 
Tiirbeh of Muhammad II, 250 
Tiirbeh of Murad I, 229 
Tiirbeh of Prince Mehemed, 80 
Turkey Company, the, 40 
Turkey-red dyeing, 45 
Turkish adoption of Western alphabet and 

phonetic spelling, difficulties due to, 

Turkish art and architecture, 124 
Turkish conquests in Europe, 56, 57 
Turkish decoration in the SeragUo, 23 
Turkish deUght [Rabat Lokum), 117 
Turkish fireplace, typical, 127 
Turkish Navy, the, 49 
Turkish revolution of 1908, 135 
Turks, the, use of eunuchs by, 134 et seq. 
Tzycanisterion (polo-ground), 69 

UfUncii Kapi — see Third Gate 

Ugiincii Yeri in the Fourth Court (Kiosk 

of the Third Estate), 257 
Umayyad dynasty, 245 n., 247 
Underground chambers, 46 
Underground kiosk, 64 
Underground reservoirs, 46 
Ushers [chiausi), 104 
Ustas (mistresses), 183 



Vaivodes, the (Moldavian Dukes), 115 
Vakfs (religious endowments of Imperial 

mosques), 129 
Valens, Emperor, additions made to New 

Rome by, 56 
Valle, Pietro della, cited, 19 
Veils, outdoor {burko, litham, tnahramah, 

ya^mak), 172 
Venetian Bailos, cited, 29, 34-35, 36, 37 
Venice, 36, 187 

Vestibule adorned with arms, 98 
Vestibule of the Fountain {^e^meli Sofa), 

159, 193 
Vestibule of the Hearth {OcakU Sofa), 159, 

Vezmdar-hashi (Inspector of the PubUc 

Treasury), 130 
Veznedars (weighers of the money received 

by the Sultan), 130 
Vieux Serai, the — see Old Serai 
Visitors' Gallery, Sancta Sophia, capitals 

in, 123 
Vitruvius, cited, 214 

Wages, official paying (secretary of the 

Kislar Agha), 131-132 
Waistcoats, female, 167, 169, 170 
Waiting-rooms, 99 
Walachia, honey from, 115 
Wall kiosk of Osman III, 25, 160, 194, 

Wall-fountains, 176, 204, 205, 206, 207, 

Walls, 27, 46, 58 et seq., 72, 97, 109, 112, 

154, 200, 253. See also Sea-walls 
War Office (Seraskerat), 17 
Water-boilers for baths, 203, 206 
Water-garden (havuz), 256 
Waterworks, 83, 87, 112 
Wei-chung-hsien, eunuch, 150 
Weighers of the money received by the 

Sultan [Veznedars), 130 
Welby, Miss Frances, 35 
Wells, 78, 87-88, 124, 155 
Western Gynasceum, the, 123 

White, Charles, cited, 78, 81 «., 116, 235, 

246, 249, 250 
Withers, Robert, translation of Bon by, 35 

et seq. 
Wood Gate {Odun Kapi), the, 78 
Wood-carriers (Ajem-oghlans), 115 
Wood-cutters — see Halberdiers 
Wood-yard, the, 83 

Xenophon, cited, 137 

Xerxes, favourite eunuch of, 147 

Yafta (conical scroll), 99 

Ya^Uk (handkerchief), 180 

Yahourt (coagulated buttermilk), 223 

Yailak-Bash-Kapi-Oghlan (Assistant Chief 
Gatekeeper of the Apartments), 132 

Yakali (' possessing collars '), sub-section of 
corps of halberdiers, no 

Yakasiz (' without collars '), sub-section of 
corps of halberdiers, no 

Yali or Shore Kiosk, 73, 74, 75, 76 

Yali Ko^kii Kapi, the, 75 

Yang-hsin-tien (bedroom of Chinese Em- 
peror), 180 

Ya^mak (outdoor veil), 172 

Yatak odasi (bedroom), 159, 176 

Yelek (waistcoat), 169, 170 

Yemek odasi (dining-room) of the Sultan 
Valide, 159 

Yemeni (muslin handkerchief), 172 

Yeni KapUja, baths at Brusa, 229 

Yeni Serai (Sarayi), 17, 58 

Ye§il (^ami (Green Mosque), 80, 226 

Yildiz, palace of Abd ul-Hamid II at, 20- 
21, 211, 243 

Young, Sir George, cited, 19-20 

Young Turks, the, 51 

Zaferaga, Ragusan eunuch, 165 

Zanan-ndmeh (Fazil), 225 

Zara, Bassano da, cited, 19, 118, 163, 212, 

21s et seq., 220 et seq., 255 
Zimmermann, Professor, and the porcelain 

collection in the Seraglio, 242 
Ziiliifli Baltajikrs, the, 95, no